L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Bank scheme for honeybee farmers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 9
Yes Bank has started a structured rural financing scheme for 2,000 honeybee farmers. A company press note issued here today said the bank has been awarded Euromoney - Trade Finance 'Deal of The Year' award for the project.

Rana Kapoor, founder/ managing director and CEO, said, "The scheme has helped making significant difference in the lives of some marginalised farmers. This acknowledgement from an international forum validates our strategy to enable financial inclusion in the agri-food segment through such innovative solutions. This sustainable financial model is a part of our business focus on agri business which includes taking banking and financial solutions to rural India enabled by our specialised domain expertise and sophisticated financial structuring skills."

The deal, said the press note, entailed extending financing of $3.5 million for a period of six months to small bee keeping nomadic farmers in North India by using a Ware House Receipt Based Structured Trade Finance Solution.

The bank created a structure whereby credit risk was transferred from the farmers to the stocks of honey kept in warehouses, to overcome the risk associated with doing business with small farmers.

The bank enrolled Kashmir Apiaries Exports (KAE), one of the largest exporters of honey from India. As a buyer, KAE extended a purchase commitment at a pre-determined price for the honey as supplied by various small farmers, providing the bank with greater credit enhancement for the commodity.

This deal, said the bank, helped over 2,000 farmers, providing individual loans of an average of $500. The facility has provided farmers with immediate access to credit facilities at an annual interest rate of 11 per cent. The farmers were able to obtain higher selling prices for their honey stocks, and in turn KAE was able to increase its sales turnover becoming the number one Indian exporter of honey.

The process included honey farmers brining their produce to carefully selected warehouse premises, and depositing their honey to National Collateral Management Services, Yes Bank's appointed collateral management agency.

The collateral manager then assessed the quality and quantity of the commodity, monitored the stocks and issued storage receipts to the farmers. The ownership of the honey remained with the farmers. The stock receipts were submitted by the farmers to KAE, acting as the managing and collecting agent, and the loan documentation was completed and sent to the bank, with a minimum purchase commitment for a base price. The bank then released the loan funds equivalent to 70 per cent of the collateral value on the same day directly to the farmers. The farmers could either repay the loan to the Bank after six months, by selling the stock to KAE or to another bidder. 



Reorient farm research, scientists told
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 9
There is a need to reorient agricultural research keeping in view the climatic changes due to global warming. These views were expressed by Dr P.K.Mishra, secretary, Department of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Government of India, during his visit to the PAU.

Addressing a gathering of select scientists, Dr Mishra said that by the year 2010, India would be needing 234 million tonnes of foodgrains, but states like Madhya Pradesh and Bihar had much less crop production than Punjab. Other states should also adopt the PAU model of agricultural research, he suggested. Though wheat production declined in 2006-07 in Punjab, the state contributed 75.3 per cent to the central pool, which in itself was an achievement, he added.

The officiating vice-chancellor of the PAU G.S.Sandhu said that Punjab had always been at the forefront in solving the problems of national food security. The government, too, should formulate agricultural policies which prove as an incentive to the farmers to grow pulses and oilseeds. He pointed out that the combined yearly yield of wheat and paddy in the state was the highest in the world. He also suggested a low premium insurance policy be devised for the Punjab farmer.

Dr Balwinder Singh Sidhu, director, agriculture, informed that Punjab would surpass its target of wheat production this year. The target was pegged at 145 lakh metric tonnes, but the PAU and various agencies had reported about 75000 metric tonnes of more production.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr B.S.Dhillon, director of research at the PAU, revealed that growth chambers were being purchased with the Centre's grant of Rs 100 crore. This would facilitate the creation of artificial conditions for crop research.

He stressed that since Punjab provided food security to the nation, the country, too, should come forward to support financially agricultural research in the state.



Farmers return to manual harvesting for fodder
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 9
With the dry fodder getting costlier, farmers have returned to the manual harvesting of wheat crop. The manual harvesting prevents the wastage of wheat straw that is used as dry fodder for cattle by farmers.

Besides, the manual harvesting is also advised by the agricultural experts since it leaves little stubble which the farmers usually burn.

The farmers for quite sometime had been using giant combine harvesters for harvesting the wheat crop. Although the method is relatively less costly and less time consuming, but it leaves lot of wheat stubble in the land, which is quite difficult to be removed. The farmers set it on fire to get rid of it much against the advice of the experts as burning the stubble leads to the killing of friendly organisms in the soil.

A random survey by The Tribune found that in most of the places the farmers have resorted to the manual harvesting. Although it is more time consuming and involves lots of labour, farmers say, it saves them the cost of fodder, thus making up for the additional investment in labour and time.

Agriculture experts have welcomed the trend of manual harvesting saying that it will not only provide cheap dry fodder to the farmers for their cattle, but also help in preserving the friendly organisms in the soil, which get killed once the farmers burn the wheat stubble left due to mechanical harvesting.



Students educated on importance of health
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 9
Spring Dale Senior Secondary Public School celebrated World Health Day.

In the morning assembly, Jatinder, a student of class X delivered a speech on World Health Day. He informed the assembly that the WHO organised the first World Health Assembly in 1948 and in 1950, it was decided that this day would be celebrated on April 7 every year.

The main motive is to bring awareness of health among people.

To reduce child mortality, improve maternal health and combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases are among the millennium development goals which all member states have pledged to meet by the year 2015.

Avinash Kaur Walia, director and founder-principal of the school, brought to limelight the importance of this day and asked various questions regarding health from the students. Yuvraj of class VII, Jasjeet Raikhi (class VII), Taranpreet (class XI) also spoke.

Sandeep Raikhi, principal, gave suggestions as to how one could stay safe from diseases in a globalised world. She discussed about the infectious diseases, their cures and preventive measures.

Major DPS Raikhi, medical officer of the school, laid stress on the theory that prevention is better than cure.

The event marked the importance of health for productive and happy lives. All teachers and students readily agreed to make efforts to improve their health. 



Detained students say attendance  record manipulated
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 9
Questions are being raised about the authenticity of the CDs pertaining to the attendance record on the basis of which more than 100 students have been detained.

The students have not been able to take their examinations this session due to lecture shortage and certain teachers have alleged that many college authorities in the city ‘manipulated with the record’.

The students further alleged that if the university authorities tallied the CDs with the original record, many discrepancies would be found.

Sore over the ‘biased attitude’ of the college authorities, Satbir Singh, one of the detained students, said all record and information regarding lecture shortage was sent by the clerical staff of the college on the directions of the respective principals.

“We had been told that due to the university's strict rules, nothing could be done at the college level. But many city colleges are affiliated to the PU, and this strictness should be imposed on all colleges. But many students of private institutions managed to get their roll numbers after paying the penalties. They are taking the exams whereas our one year has been wasted,” he said.

One of the faculty members, siding with the students said the real information had been concealed by some college authorities and that teachers of various subjects should be asked to send the record instead of the official staff.

He added that in many colleges for boys in the district, not a single student had been detained.

“It is unbelievable that boys do not bunk classes. They do, but they also manage things smartly. On the basis of a CD, students should not be detained or issued roll numbers. The PU had taken a good step but the method needs to be made more transparent,” he said.

A two-member committee comprising Dean Students Welfare, PU, Naval Kishore and Dean Academics, B.D.Budhiraja, visited one of the colleges for boys recently.

Some of the students of this private college openly stated that they were issued the roll numbers after they paid ‘penalties’ to the official staff of the college.

Some alleged that they had paid thousands of rupees to get their name included in the list of roll numbers sent by the university.



Complaints against Dr Aulakh proved to be false
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, April 9
As Dr K.S.Aulakh has submitted his resignation from the post of vice-chancellor, hue and cry is being raised by some of those employees who were at the receiving end during the tenure of Dr Aulakh and have made out a case that there were some inquiries pending against him, as a result of which he has resigned.

The fact is that three inquiries were conducted during the past six years against Dr Aulakh and some other officers of the university, and all complaints were found to be false and dismissed by the Punjab Lokpal and other agencies.

The Punjab Vigilance Bureau, Patiala, conducted an inquiry into the alleged seed scam of seed farm at Nabha worth Rs 15 lakh and the allegations were found to be baseless. Even one application was moved in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, seeking CBI inquiry into the seed scam.

Dr Balwant Singh, who retired as a professor from the department of extension education of Punjab Agricultural University, has been spearheading the campaign against Dr K S Aulakh right from the time of his appointment as vice-chancellor of the PAU.

In a complaint to the Punjab Lokpal, Dr Balwant Singh even attacked Dr G.S.Kalkat.

Dr Balwant Singh stated, 'Dr Kalkat had only one agenda of appointing Dr Aulakh as the next vice-chancellor of the PAU and he succeeded in achieving the same by virtue of his closeness to Badal.'

Dr Balwant Singh, who moved his complaint to the Punjab Lokpal after the ouster of the Badal government in 2002, also alleged that some of the appointments made by the PAU were not proper.

While dismissing the complaint Justice D.V.Sehgal, Lokpal, in his order, observed, 'I find that all appointments were made on the recommendations of duly appointed selection committees. No doubt, those aggrieved against these appointments have questioned them by filing writ petitions in the high court and the matter is sub judice. But there is no reason for me to hold, as canvassed by the complainant, that since these have been questioned in the high court, these were the result of misconduct on part of Dr Aulakh. There are some other allegations in the complaint regarding the selection and appointment of some other posts. I am satisfied that in none of them there is any prima facie case of misconduct on part of Dr Aulakh.'

The order by justice D.V.Sehgal, Punjab Lokpal, was passed on August 22,2002.

Similarly, P.K.Verma, financial commissioner (development ), Punjab, in a communication to the vice- chancellor Aulakh on October 21, 2004, informed, 'It has been ascertained from the additional director-general of police, crime, Punjab Chandigarh, that an inquiry into the allegations levelled by Dr Balwant Singh against the officers of the PAU had been got conducted through the inspector-general of police (zonal) Patiala. While sending the report to the additional director-general of police crime, Punjab Chandigarh, the inspector-general of police, zone-1, Patiala, has concluded that the allegations raised by the complainant were not proved.

The DSP, Nabha, also conducted an inquiry into the alleged seed scam of Nabha seed farm and found the allegations baseless. He sent his report to the Senior Superintendent of police, Patiala on August 5, 2003.

The residents of kitchlu Nagar who are seeking the opening of the gate No. 6 had also made frivolous complaints against Dr Aulakh to the vice-chancellor of the university and other higher authorities, but all were found false and filed. No inquiry is pending against Dr Aulakh at present.



Fun and frolic at Genesis-07
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 9
The atmosphere at Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College (GNDEC) was full of excitement and festivity, as the three-day All-India Techno  Cultural Festival  entered its second day yesterday.

The day saw a wave of fun, frolic and enthusiasm to keep the fest going.

The fest has participants drawn from over 30 colleges from all over the country and includes competition in five categories of Formal, Informal, Technical, Cultural and Fine Arts.

The technical level of the events was challenging even as the cultural events of group dances made everybody dance  to various tunes.

The events for the day were 'Quizzards' (winner Ankita and Shivangi), the Senate (winners Harsimran Kaur and Priyanaka Pandey),  Face the Music (Press Conference), Wall  Street (Stock Market), The Firm (Management Games), Path finder (winner Avneet Singh).

'Besura Singer' (winner Ajay Aggarwal of the GNDEC and Ghansham of the SBSCET).



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