By Ravinder Singh Robin/Sunil Sharma
Amritsar/Chandigarh, May 30 : Punjab, known for its agricultural productions and a vibrant culture, is today witnessing a change in farming practices.
Enterprising farmers are growing items other than food grains. A group of agriculture scientists and experts are reaching out to various villages to popularize progressive farming among villagers.
Many farmers, who till recently were only growing grains, have become entrepreneurs, especially after acquiring knowledge about latest market trends. For them, farming has become a lucrative option.
An example of how farmers have benefited from diverse farming is visible in the progress of Harchand's dairy farm in Grangan village. He is one of the 1,400 progressive dairy farmers in Punjab. He has started using waste products of dairy farming for agriculture.
Harchand has set up an automatic milk plant and today take pride in being an owner of 143 cattle, of which 60 are milch breed.
"We have adopted a chain of viable use of waste here at the farm. Dairy waste is being used for the pig farm. The pigsty waste has been used for fishery. And the water of fishery pond has been used to irrigate farms. Our farming land is chemical-free. And, we bring organic pasture for the cows. That's how we prepare natural milk. We can easily compete with the export market by preparing natural milk. Our milk is matchless," said Harchand Singh, the dairy farmer.
Today, there are several farmers in Punjab who are rejoicing after having opted for diversified farming. They have been encouraged to take up dairy farming for growth and prosperity.
The district agricultural department has started a drive in which, the vehicle carries a team of agricultural experts to educate people about new farming schemes.
These agricultural scientists want farmers to grow crops with least expenditure.
Farmers wanted that such a process of educating them should be a regular process in place of being held once a year. They opined that the government has employed educated and technical staff who could guide them more as farmers because they are just used to till their fileds and harvest the traditional crops according to the age-old techniques.
Gurdeep Singh, of the Atma Project, Amritsar, said: " The district administration is extensively promoting dairy farming. We are convincing farmers to take up dairy farming commercially and maximize the use of organic compost to make the land healthy. We arelso promoting fishery and bee-keeping which may help generate more employment.
The novel step is proving quite fruitful for farmers to shift from conventional to contemporary farming.
Another case is of Sukhchain Singh who is related to organic vegetable and was encouraged to diversify from paddy to vegetables.
Having 15 acres of land in village Jabbowal, near Amritsar, Sukhchain grows vegetables in 10 acres, thereby doubling his income. His success has motivated other farmers to take up diversification.
Sukhchain wants to produce chemical free vegetables. He says: "We are using organic vermicompost in the crops. It's very beneficial and healthy. The vegetables are chemical-free and their proteins remain stable."
The farmers are realizing that diversification in agriculture is possible and essential to save the crumbling agriculture economy and environment of Punjab.
However, the process and strategies to make it happen is not that easy, but the informed and and the progressive farmers, with the assistance of the government, are determined to make it a possible dream.