Ludhiana, Mar 16: Despite large scale indebtness in the agrarian sector and reports of suicide by farmers, the success story of Punjabi agriculturalists continues in the state and the key to their success is diversification from wheat and paddy to fruits, vegetables and oilseeds.
The success story of Sukhpal Singh Hayer of Chakk Kala Tibba village in Ferozepur district started started about two decades ago, on 30 acres of land that he inherited. In 1983, he visited Australia and gained knowledge of improved citrus cultivation practices.
Maintaining an active liaison with horticulture experts of Fruit Research Station of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), at Abohar, he diversified from wheat and paddy to citrus.
All through these years, Mr Hayer, who was awarded the 'CMs Horticulture Award this year, has endeavoured to use natural resources especially, water and soil nutrients judiciously. He has practiced green manuring to maintain soul health and is aware of maintaining soil fertility through crop rotations.
He has erected conceret channels to avoid wastage of water and has applied only need-based irrigation to his orchards. He maintains 13 acres Kinnow, two acres each of sweet orange, guava, peach, pear and plum and an acre of ber. He cultivates just five acres of wheat and one acre of 'sarson' during rabi season while six acres is left for cotton in the kharif season.
He believes that for better returns, crop health is of great significance. He maintains his orchard in good health by using tractor-operated plant protection equipment and follows the PAU recommended varieties and technologies in his farms devotedly.
Another farmer in this category is Sukhpal Singh of Dyallpura Bhaika village in Bathinda district who too was honoured with the CMs Horticulture Award. He started growing vegetables scientifically on 35 acres of land.
Sukhpal has successfully shifted 16 acres from under paddy to vegetables cultivation. After laser-leveling of nine acres he has introduced drip irrigation as an effort to rationally use water.
He has dug bore wells to promote groundwater recharging. Rather than burning, he incorporated paddy straw into his fields. He follows green manuring in staggered eight acres of his fields to improve organic matter of his soil in phased manner.
He also practices preparing compost based on incorporation of vegetables refuge and also of excreta of his cattle that he uses in four acres every year. He was a pioneer to use zero-till-drill in Bathinda district.
Sukhpal has constructed innovative structures, using easily available material like bamboos and wires, for growing tomatoes, bittergourds and cucurbits of better quality. He has diversified his paddy based agriculture through growing a variety of vegetables including chilies, cauliflower, cabbage, bitter gourd, cucumber, tomato and green fodders.
Sukhpal has created a niche for himself as a producer and retailer of quality nursery of hybrid chillies, brinjal, tomato and flowering plants. He has become a pioneer in the creation of net-house technology for raising vegetables at his farm.
Moving from the Malwa belt to the Doaba area, one comes across a number of enterprising farmers and one amongst them is Sarwan Singh Chandi of Boolpur village in Kapurthala district. He has made efforts to diversify his farming that sets example for others.
This 44 year old, graduate farmer had 14 acres of land inherited from his father, but has added an extra chunk of 30 acres on contract, for profitable farming. He is known as a progressive bee-keeper and is leading a Self Help Group of Kapurthala.
He has bagged crop prizes for competitions from PAU Kisan Melas 26 times and this year he has been chosen for the CMs Agriculture Award. He lays emphasis on spreading the message 'Save water-Save Punjab' and has deepened the village pond for recharging underground water.
He has obtained Agmark for honey produced at his apiary that he sells out through sale-kiosks established at different places in Kapurthala city. He has maintained about 350 boxes in his apiary.
Sarwan Singh Chandi has brought a good proportion of his land under cultivation of pulses, sunflower and medicinal herbs in addition to wheat and potato for diversification. For domestic consumption, he produces vegetables and fruits at his farm. He grows flowers on over an acre, that, besides supplementing his income, also adds-on his bee-keeping venture.