• You are an existing farmer looking to diversify into other crops or other agriculture related activities like dairy and poultry and to use modern techniques and mechanisation to maximise profits. Or, you are an enterprising person looking for opportunities to try your hands at agriculture. Here’s a great platform coming your way – the first edition of the India Agri Progress Expo 2020 opens to the public for three days from January 23 at the Fruit & Vegetable Market in Phase XI (Sector 65) Mohali, near Bestech Mall.

Announcing the expo, largely targeted at farmers and enterprising people from Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, GS Dhillon, Managing Director, Udan Media & Communication, told media persons that it will feature an exhibition by more than 100 agricultural machinery and product manufacturers and service providers from across the country aimed at diversification of crops, micro irrigation and farm mechanisation.

Photo By : Life In Chandigarh

The event, being organised in association with Punjab State Agricultural Implements Manufacturers Association (PSAIMA), and supported by the Agricultural Machinery Manufacturers’ Association (AMMA-India), a national body of agricultural machinery manufacturers, will also have a conference spread over 10 sessions, focussing on entrepreneurship, farmer-produce organisations, dairy, poultry, digital agriculture, climate change and farm mechanisation.

The speakers will include key government functionaries connected with agriculture, farm scientists, farmers’ leaders and representatives of manufacturers and service providers.

Others who interacted with the media were Sarbjeet Singh Panesar, Secretary, AMMA-India, Baldev Singh, Chairman, PSAIMA, Dr Surinder Singh Bajwa, retired Asstt Director Horticulture cum Nodal Officer Mushroom, Punjab and Harmanjit Singh Randhawa, Director, Citrus Estate Hoshiarpur.

Dwelling on the hot topic of stubble-burning, Sarbjeet Singh Panesar and Baldev Singh said a variety of high quality machinery like happy seeders and balers, being manufactured in Punjab and rest of the country, was proving quite effective in tackling the menace. Sarbjeet Singh informed that the Punjab government provided more than 52,000 seeders to individual farmers (at 50% subsidy) and farmers cooperatives (at 80% subsidy) over the last two years and the trend of using these machines instead of burning the stubble was fast catching on. Considering that 35 million metric tonnes of paddy is traded in Punjab alone, the problem has gained enormous proportions, and hence will not vanish in a hurry, he said, adding that concerted efforts need to be made at all levels.

Dr Surinder Singh Bajwa felt that paddy stubble could be a cheap source of generating rich compost for cultivation of mushrooms, which were rich in proteins, micro nutrients and minerals. The cultivation, though required to be done in controlled laboratory like conditions, is not very difficult and gives high returns. Input cost of Rs 100,000 could give returns of Rs 200,000 in a 90 days cycle, he added.

Observing that out of the estimated 1.55 lakh metric tonnes production of mushrooms nationally, Punjab with 12,000 metric tonnes was only next to Haryana’s 20,000 metric tonnes, followed at third place by Gujarat (10,000 metric tonnes), he said this was nowhere near the huge potential of these states.

To encourage farmers to take to mushroom cultivation, he suggested that the state governments should provide electricity to them at par rate with agriculture. He also encouraged farm implement manufacturers to make galvanised crates, which were far more durable for mushroom cultivation.

Harmanjit Singh Randhawa maintained that interest of farmers and non-farmers in horticulture cultivation is on the increase. But now the emphasis has shifted from quantity to quality because the customers are demanding quality. Focussing on citrus, especially kinnow cultivation, he said recent advancements in implements, including electrostatic sprayers, pruners and pneumatic drills had revolutionised the cultivation process leading to reduced costs and higher returns.

He, however, admitted that in manufacture of high technology farm implements, India had fallen way behind the world, and hence these farm aids had to be imported at a huge cost. To make them affordable farmers had to organise themselves into groups and cooperatives, which was not an easy task, given the distrust and misgivings among them, he emphasised.

Pointing out that the declining availability of farm labour, especially in agriculturally advanced states like Punjab and Haryana, had necessitated farmers to increasingly look at mechanisation as an alternative, Randhawa felt that now Indian farm machinery and implement manufacturers might wake up to the need for greater research and innovation to come out with indigenous and cheaper high technology solutions.

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