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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

Indo-Pak ties at low ebb, but farmers from across border seek Punjab Agricultural University help

Dr Makhan Singh Bhullar, a senior agronomist at the Punjab Agricultural University, said he was surprised when he received a voice message on WhatsApp from some farmers in Lahore, Pakistan, asking for his suggestion on weed management.

punjab Updated: Sep 04, 2019 06:08 IST
Mohit Khanna
Mohit Khanna
Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
PAU experts say their YouTube videos are proving to be a huge help for farmers across the border.
PAU experts say their YouTube videos are proving to be a huge help for farmers across the border.(HT File )
         

 At a time when ties and India and Pakistan are at a low ebb in the wake of abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, farmers from the neighbouring country are seeking help of experts at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, to effectively tackle weeds in their paddy fields.

Dr Makhan Singh Bhullar, a senior agronomist at the university, said he was surprised when he received a voice message on WhatsApp from some farmers in Lahore, Pakistan, asking for his suggestion on weed management.

“A progressive farmer, Daler Singh, who owns farms in Ladowal, had shared my number on Facebook after which farmers from across the border started contacting me,” he said.

MS Bhullar is not alone. Farmers from Pakistan are increasingly taking tips from other PAU scientists to save their crops.

Daler Singh, who promotes bed transplanting of paddy, which consumes much less water as compared to the traditional paddy sowing method, said social media has a huge role to play in sharing of ideas.

“Technology knows no boundaries. I had uploaded the video of bed transplanting. Soon after, Hasib Ahmed from Gujjranwala in Pakistan contacted me saying Asif Sharif, a progressive farmer from Pakistan, was also involved in encouraging farmers to opt for bed transplanting of paddy. More farmers from across the border got in touch with me sharing the problem of weeds in paddy fields,” said Daler.

Since he could not answer all their queries, Daler shared the number of Dr Bhullar, who is known as an authority on weed control. “Now these farmers from Pakistan are seeking help from the experts to save their crops,” he said.

Dr Anil Sharma, assistant director communication, PAU, said farmers in Pakistan’s Punjab province are also facing similar issues.

“Last year, a song was released in which we urged the farmers not to sow paddy before June 20. The song received positive response from Pakistan. Even the Pakistani Agricultural Scientists’ Forum shared the song with various platforms asking farmers to desist from early sowing,” said Sharma.

PAU experts said their YouTube videos are proving to be a huge help for farmers across the border.

Dr Vijay Kumar, a senior PAU scientist who is an expert on whitefly control, said, “When the pest attacked cotton crop in Punjab in 2015, farmers in Pakistan faced similar problem. Many farmers from there had contacted us seeking advice. Some of them are still in touch with us,” said Kumar.

Even the PAU experts had sought suggestions from their Pakistan counterparts.

Dr Manjit Singh, head of department (HoD) of farm power machinery and engineering, said that laser land leveller, a technology that saves water, was first used in Pakistan. “It was in 2003 when a delegation of scientists from here visited Pakistan and brought the technology to India,” he added.

First Published: Sep 03, 2019 01:08 IST