Updated: July 17, 2021 2:28:09 pm
Fellow farmers call him ‘Mausam Da Doctor’ (weather doctor), but 41-year-old Palwinder Singh wears the sobriquet lightly. A small farmer from Fatehgarh Sahib’s Baronga Zer village, Palwinder operates around 15 WhatsApp groups that connect over 1,000 farmers with whom he shares weather related information.
The 41-year-old has been using agriculture meteorology, a study of weather and use of weather and climate information to enhance or expand crops to increase production, from 2015, and have been sharing his inputs with fellow farmers ever since.
In April this year, the Indian Council for Agriculture research (ICRA)-Central Research Institute for Dryland (CRIDA), Hyderabad under Union Ministry of Agriculture honoured him with ‘Best Progressive Farmer’ award at a virtual function for practicing and sharing ‘Agri-Metrology’ information with fellow farmers. On Friday, the Department of Climate Change and Agricultural Meteorology, Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Ludhiana, handed him the same award with a certificate received from CRIDA at a “Climates Change Awareness Programme” during a Kisan Meet at his native village.
Talking to The Indian Express, Palwinder Singh said that he had completed his MA in History in 2000, after which he did a diploma in cooperative management. He added that after failing to get a job, he decided making agriculture his main occupation as his family was had five-acres of agricultural land.
“I have not looked back ever since and started farming on my own 5-acres and also taking land on lease. Currently, I am farming on 15 acres on which I grow Wheat, paddy, potato and maize crops,” he said.
“After a decade in the farming, I realised that weather has a great role to play and I started following weather advisories very closely and acted as per those which helped me save my crops a number of times and also enhance my crop yield. Then I thought of doing it for my fellow farmers too,” he said, adding that he started making WhatsApp groups in 2015 “with the farmers of my village, surrounding villages and now even with those from surrounding districts to share weather related information”.
“Some of our fellow farmers were to harvest moong dal (pulse) on July 2 and before that they needed to make a spray to dry the pulse but there was rain forecast between July 2 to 5. The message was forwarded in every group and they did not spray because it would have caused loss to crop in case of rain. So, they did it after the rain and saved their crop,” he said, adding that similarly sometimes farmers irrigate their crops ahead of rain forecast which also weakens the crop if heavy rain comes.
“After sowing rice with DSR technique we do not need heavy rain for the next one week because heavy rain creates problems in germination. But if farmers wait and do DSR after few days of heavy rain then crop turns out to be good,” said Palwinder, adding that this is the information that he shares with farmers.
He said that rain or weather forecasts are more accurate in winters than the rainy season in which sometimes there is a possibility of error.
Palwinder also records rain data with a rain gauge that has been installed at his place since 2014 and shares the total amount of rainfall on the groups which help farmers during sowing of crops. The 41-year-old has not burnt paddy and wheat straw in his field since 2009 and is getting healthy crops by ploughing the residue in the fields.
Earlier, he was honoured by ICAR, PAU, Punjab government and local district administration for not burning crop residue and setting an example before fellow farmers who are burning it.
“We have provided him thermometer now to maintain temperature database as soil temperature helps in the latest farming technologies at the time of sowing of various crops,” said Dr Prabhjyot Kaur Sidhu, Head of the Department of Climate Change and Agricultural Meteorology, PAU, adding that Palwinder is a progressive farmer and has received the “Best Progressive Farmer” award from CRIDA, Hyderabad.
“He is an inspiration for others and had been awarded for his farsightedness in using the weather related advisory in his own farming practices and guiding fellow farmers which is a major component of the project – National Innovations on Climate Resilient Agriculture,” said Dr Sidhu, while urging farmers to make the best use of the forecast services being provided by PAU every week.
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