Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh Saturday faced opposition from farmers when he told them to stop burning paddy stubble and start using ‘Happy Seeder’ machines being distributed by the Punjab government to sow wheat and increase productivity.
“Stop burning paddy stubble. Government is providing Happy Seeder machines. It gives more wheat productivity. Start sowing wheat with Happy Seeders,” Amarinder said addressing the Kisan Mela which commenced at Punjab Agricultural University in Ludhiana.
This led to sharp reaction from farmers as some of them started interrupting his speech while others claimed that it was not true that wheat productivity increases with Happy Seeders. Others said that they never received any machines from government.
“Eh koi tareeka nahi hai, har gall nu edda taal dena. Eh karna hi payega kisi nu pasand hove ja na hove. Nahi taan tuhada hi kharcha vadu. Dunia aggey vadhdi hai. Koshish taan karo. Jina ne nahi kita oh karke vekho (You will have to do this whether you like it or not. You can’t shift the onus. Else only your input costs will increase. Everyone moves ahead with time. At least try once. Those who have never tried must try it once),” Amarinder retorted.
Amarinder said that instead of putting the blame on government, farmers must change their mindset. He said that if they face any issues in using Happy Seeders or other straw management technology, they must contact PAU scientists and seek solutions instead of showing unwillingness to adopt new technology at all.
The two-day Mela is dedicated to 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
“Guru Nanak had said that we won’t have a future if we don’t save our waters, air and earth. Neither the river waters nor the groundwater is left in Punjab. If we don’t want Punjab to turn into a desert in 20 years, then the only option is to save water. Farmers have think of adopting new crop varieties, which consume less water, and adopt techniques like drip irrigation,” he said.
The CM said that PAU and Punjab took on its shoulders to feed the entire country and started research in 1970s, which led to the Green Revolution and country became self-sufficient in producing foodgrains. But, he said, the water guzzling paddy was never Punjab’s own crop. “No one ate rice in Punjab. It was not our staple diet or crop. It has taken a toll on our waters. Now, farmers must think about growing about maize, sugarcane, pulses and other vegetables,” he said.
PAU vice-chancellor Dr BS Dhillon said that Guru Nanak Dev had given a solution to all problems of farmers in just one line: ‘Pavan Guru Pani Pita, Mata Dharat Mahat (air is the Guru, water the father and the earth is our great mother)’. “From water to air, soil to pesticides, we are facing many challenges in agriculture today but solutions are also being found through research,” he said.
Urging farmers not to spray basmati rice with pesticides, he said, “Bear some loss but don’t add to the loss of country and Punjab.” He said that farmers should not go after higher income or higher yield but towards ‘higher profit’ and hence must adopt diversification, value addition and agro-processing.
Meanwhile, Cabinet minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said that he has urged CM to write a protest letter to Centre which is planning to import milk from New Zealand. “Where will our own farmers go? Dairy farmers in Punjab and entire country will be finished. We won’t let this happen,” he said.
He added that condition of farmers who took to diversification tuns worse if they don;t get good remuneration. “In my own constituency, there is great production of cauliflowers but I feel ashamed seeing faces of farmers when they sell it for Re 1 per kilo,” he said.
Later speaking to The Indian Express, he said, “Work of PAU is to research and give new varieties and technologies to farmers but they are lacking funds. We will soon grant it funds for research.”
Meanwhile, CM also inaugurated three-day Regional Agriculture & Pashu Palan Mela (Livestock Fair) at the adjoining campus of Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU). The theme of GADVASU mela was ‘Suchaja Pashu Palan Apnao, Sehatmand Atey Khushaal Samaj Banao’ (Prosperity and Health Through Better Livestock Production) with several stalls related to cows, buffaloes, goats, fish, pigs on display for farmers.
Farmers protest ‘VIP culture’ at mela
Some farmers protested and raised slogans against Congress government and said that ‘VIP culture’ dominated the PAU fair as they were not allowed entry due to beefed-up security for CM. Some gates of the varsity and the main ground were closed after CM’s arrival and farmers were not allowed to enter. Farmers started raising slogans against CM and Congress. “Farmers are not being allowed to enter a fair which is for them while VIPs are being given special treatment,” a farmer said. Later, Ludhiana MP Ravneet Singh Bittu asked security personnel to open the gates and let farmers in.