Eleven students from different departments of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) in collaboration with United States India Educational Foundation (USIEF) have started using theatre as a platform to educate farmers across the state.
Anil Sharma, assistant director of television and radio, PAU, is the man behind this novel idea. Sharma told the students that science and agriculture could also be communicated through theatre. Sharma also unfolded two of his self written and directed plays on agriculture that were staged across the state in 2003 and 2005. For his 2005 play on saving cotton from insects, Sharma was awarded by the Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR), Nagpur.
“I have been a part of theatre since my college days. I regard the power of theatre, that is why creating awareness among farmers through short plays came to my mind,” said Sharma. He added: “Two of my previous plays were a hit among farmers and now with the new team and the new play, we will educate more farmers. Our tour had begun since March and we want to cover as many areas as possible.”
The present play ‘Kahani Dharti Pani Te Rasayan Di’ (story of earth, water and pesticides) opens up with the history of agriculture that also throws light on ‘green revolution’. It further depicts farmers who once were depended upon natural ways of farming but now have become dependent upon excessive use of insecticides and pesticides. As the play turns towards culmination, students playing various characters offer solutions including using the natural resources like soil and water.
“The play not only educates on the use of insecticides and pesticides but also shows how the excess use makes the soil infertile, makes crops poisonous and even kills friendly insects,” said Sharma.
The 25-minute play is no less than any performance by professional theatre artists. It is packed with proper light, music, costumes and great acting. “Wherever we have performed so far, we have experienced that farmers have taken keen interest in the play and once the play is over, they ask many questions.
This has proved that this is the best way to create awareness among farmers,” said Narjeet Singh who plays the role of a pesticide in the play. Sharnjit Kaur Dhillon plays the role of lady bird beetle.
Four students who play the role of farmers are Ranvir Sandhu, Jobanjit Khaira, Harjeet Ladhar, S Paul Masih. Kunal Singla plays the role of ithas baba and Naveen Bhandari plays the role of a government official.
About Anil Sharma
Sharma attained his doctorate degree in Extension of Agriculture in 2003 from PAU. In PAU he was as an associate research scholar in the entomology department for a year. He then became the assistant professor of extension education in 2004. In 2009, Sharma applied for a fellowship with USIEF which was awarded to him seeing his meritorious record in the extension of agriculture. Recently, Sharma was conferred upon with full bright award by USIEF.