Monday, May 30, 2011

KVM delegation meeting with PAU

30 May,2011

To submit Beej Swaraj Charter Kheti Virasat Mission seeks an appointment with the acting Vice Chancellor of Punjab Agriculture University along with PAU faculty. We are glad that Vice Chancellor of Punjab Agriculture University Shri N S Kang IAS given directions to PAU faculty to have a full fledged meeting with delegation of Beej Swaraj Conference.

On 30th May after Conference a delegation of Beej Swaraj Conference participants which includes Dr Amar Singh Azad (Working President KVM) ; Umendra Dutt, Sukhdev Singh Bhopal ( Human Nature Centric People’s Movement) ; Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, Prof Jagmohan Singh and large number of KVM farmers. From PAU side those were present are Dr Satbir Singh Gosal, Director Research; Dr Ashok Dhawan, Addill DR; Dr M S Gill, Director Extension; Dr Raj Kumar Mehay, Registrar; Dr Kuldeep Singh, Director Biotechnology Center; Dr Manjeet Singh Gill, HoD Plant Breading and Genetics; Dr Gurmeet Singh Bhttar, HoD, Agronomy; Dr Sarabjeet Singh Bal, Director Seed; Dr H S Randhawa, Senior Plant Pathologist; Dr Geeta Bassi, Seed Technologist, Dr Gurbhajan Gill, Director Public Relations and Dr Nirmal Jora Joint Director PRs.

Agenda and charter of demands for the meeting was handed over to the PAU expert’s panel. The aim of this dialogue over Beej Swaraj Charter is to create a conducive and encouraging environment that contributes to mutual cooperation. During the discussion following points were put forward

The university policy that for various reasons of sustainability of Agriculture in Punjab diversification is a declared policy, hence any attempts by farmers in diversification will get full support from P A U. The university has a very rich scientific knowledge and experience on all diversified areas of agriculture production and management, hence the farmer groups come out with their requirements and are ready to try diversified agricultural practices, university will be very happy to provide all scientific and training inputs to such collectives of farmers.
It was appreciated by the visiting natural agricultural farmers and PAU faculity agreed on following points to work together, Further on various concerns of the visiting delegation following understanding was reached -

1. Readiness of PAU for research & co-operation in Organic / Natural farming – PAU officials shared their experiences & recommendations on the issue. They registered their concern that very few farmers are showing interest to take up the challenge. As there is a dormancy period of three years for the yield to come at par with the current yield levels. But experience of several KVM farmers practicing natural farming and Pingalwara Amritsar’s Dheerakot farm project in natural agriculture practices have registered very appreciable results. However, Head of Departments, Organic Farming who kept silence initially, appreciated and accepted natural farming’s successes across the Punjab, and bumper success of organic sugarcane in particular. Hence there is good scope for small and marginal farmers in adopting agricultural practice which demand minimum (zero input cost from outside) thus saving this group of small and marginal farmers from debt.

2. Traditional Seeds: PAU scientists informed that they have rich pool of many varieties of traditional seeds (including cotton) & that PAU along with agriculture department has the capacity to multiply them. But the need is to have a demand for the same. It was appreciated that University charge no royalty but charges the cost of production only. The University has all infrastructure for training in agricultural practices and seed multiplication .This facility will be made available to farmers. But for better output and optimization of resources if farmers make cooperative groups it could be very effective.

3. Hybridization of Seeds: Experts from PAU exemplified the issues of hybridization of seeds on need basis (which primarily comprise of yield & sustainability) of naturally available species, but restrained where nothing was needed (paddy is an example, where till date no hybridization is done by university).

4. GM Crops: University officials assured that in this field the results of lab research are only announced after thorough screening by various committees taking care of various issues of security and concern. They further assured that any GM solutions shall only considered after all viable traditional methods have failed. But it was broadly agreed that more discussion is required to understand the issues involved because some top scientist have some concerns on the issue. So more in-depth discussions are required.
5. Soil Health: It was agreed that sustained agriculture is very much dependent on the soil health and even the government emphasis is on having soil health card to educate the farmers on keeping watch on the health of his fields and use chemicals with restraint. The university scientists explained that they have the facility available and services could be provided as part of extension services .

6. Usage of Agro-Chemicals and Health Issues: Health problems having their roots in agro-chemicals were elaborated by Dr. Amar Singh Azad. PAU faculty blamed the farmers for not following the recommended practices and were sure that they have no effect if used as recommended. It also came for discussion that missing Zinc from traditional staple food due to agro chemicals also needs to be understood and university should take initiative to educate the public on these issues.

7. Natural Farmer’s Club : Prof. Jagmohan Singh suggested that to best utilise the knowledge heritage accumulated by PAU a platform be created for the small and marginal farmers who are willing to or are working in the natural / alternative agricultural practices so that they could avail the scientific advice of the university and improve their practices with scientific inputs.. The club of natural farmers and PAU experts, will provide a permanent platform for sharing knowledge, training and experiences, on which there was understanding.

8. Building a dialogue between PAU and Ecological agriculture movements: Umendra Dutt urged upon the PAU scientists to have a continues dialogue between PAU faculty and Ecological farmers. To which PAU panel enthusiastically agreed. It was agreed upon that this kind of cooperation will benefit larger section of farmers. Dr Raj Kumar Mehey PAU registrar asked for mutual regard as a pre-requisite a dialogue which was supported by both sides.

Finally PAU scientists gave assurance for open discussions with practicing natural farmers, activists & experts on the charter. They were requested to provide their response to the various issues and concerns raised in charter.

More important thing is that meeting was held in a gracious and pleasant atmosphere and most of PAU faculty member said that it is a welcome step that KVM team is here for dialogue. Director Extension offered all kind of support and cooperation for ecological agriculture from KVKs. Even Director PR offered to publish interviews of successful KVM farmers.

To conclude it can be termed as a good beginning and if the same trend continues it will bring positive results.