Government likely to launch comprehensive farm policy on Banda Singh Bahadur’s birth anniv: Minister - Hindustan Times
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Government likely to launch comprehensive farm policy on Banda Singh Bahadur’s birth anniv: Minister

BySukhpreet Singh, Ludhiana
Sep 30, 2023 05:14 AM IST

The upcoming agriculture policy in Punjab has its roots in chief minister Bhagwant Singh Mann’s commitment made in January

Agriculture minister Gurmeet Singh Khudian has revealed that the state government is expected to launch a comprehensive agriculture policy on the birth anniversary of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur on October 16, 2023. The announcement was made during a consultation meeting held at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), where key stakeholders convened to discuss ‘crop residue management.’

Agricultural minister Gurmeet Singh Khudian during the stakeholders’ consultation meet at PAU in Ludhiana on Friday (Gurpreet Singh/HT)
Agricultural minister Gurmeet Singh Khudian during the stakeholders’ consultation meet at PAU in Ludhiana on Friday (Gurpreet Singh/HT)

The upcoming agriculture policy in Punjab has its roots in chief minister Bhagwant Singh Mann’s commitment made in January. He pledged to create an agricultural policy for the state. To make this happen, an expert committee of 11 members, led by former agriculture minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal, was established. The promise was that this new policy would be ready by March 31.

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During a media briefing, Khudian confirmed that the suggestions and ideas of farmers and think tanks have been carefully included in the policy. The primary aim of this upcoming policy is to provide significant benefits to farmers with a strong focus on conserving water and protecting the environment.

Khudian also emphasised the importance of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur in Punjab’s history. He was an advocate for farmers’ rights and played a pivotal role in abolishing the zamindari system in the state. Launching the agricultural policy on his birth anniversary is seen as a tribute to his legacy and a commitment to improving the lives of farmers.

He also stated that October 16 is celebrated globally as World Food Day, making it a fitting occasion to unveil this policy.

In response to concerns about funding shortages for research programmes at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU), Khudian said the policy addresses these issues. It ensures that research initiatives receive adequate funding and that departmental maintenance needs are met.

Khudian addresses key stakeholders over crop residue management at PAU

Khudian took part in a consultation meet with key stakeholders over ‘Crop residue management’ (CRM) that was convened with the collaborative efforts of the ICAR- Agricultural Technology Application Research Institute, Ludhiana, and Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), at the university campus here on Friday.

The event commenced with paying tributes to renowned agricultural scientist and the father of Green Revolution Dr MS Swaminathan, who passed away recently. The meet was attended by senior officers from relevant departments from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), academia, various stakeholder agencies, farmers, social groups and NGOs, representatives from agricultural machinery manufacturing industries, and biomass industry associations.

The minister hailed the research and extension services of PAU that reached the doorsteps of the farmers, arming them with the latest technical know-how. He shared that the department of agriculture and PAU should synchronise their efforts and revitalise agricultural extension systems to meet the ever-evolving needs of the farming community.

Khudian appreciated the farmers who had made the state prosperous and at the same time showered praise on the university scientists who were proactively engaged in making agriculture sustainable and profitable. He also urged the farmers to adopt various approaches for paddy stubble management as recommended by the university; to diversify their crop choices, and highlighted the potential of cultivating alternative crops that could contribute to both farmers’ prosperity and ecological sustainability.

The vice-chancellor of PAU, Satbir Singh Gosal, stated that it was imperative to curb the practice of paddy straw burning, at the same time identifying obstacles hindering the progress. These included a large amount of paddy residue and the limited timeframe for sowing wheat. To address these challenges, he proposed increasing baler capacity, deploying more machinery in high burning areas, involving cooperative societies for support, and replicating successful initiatives.

The vice-chancellor of Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU), Ludhiana, Inderjeet Singh, too addressed the need for in-situ management of crop residue, highlighting the significance of retaining biofertilisers, phosphorus-fixing bacteria and friendly microbes in the soil, that are destroyed as a result of farm fires. Director, ICAR-ATARI, Zone-I, Ludhiana, Parvender Sheoran, shared a report on the ‘Information, Education and Communication (IEC) Activities under CRM Project led by ICAR through KVKs’.

Dr RK Singh, additional director general, ICAR, appealed to all stakeholders, farmers and scientists to remember that we all share a common earth and are bound to preserve its vitality, fertility and sustainability.

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