New normal

No kisan melas, field staff hold digital meetings with farmers in Punjab

Charanjit Singh Teja

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 12

Earlier, the field staff of the Agriculture Department used to conduct farmers’ meet to address their issues and make them aware of various government schemes and projects. But now, they have been adopting new techniques to contact farmers and help them get good results. This year, in the wake of the outbreak of pandemic, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) cancelled the kisan melas, which were to be held in March.

The block-level routine farmer meetings and special farmer-expert meetings were also not held during the past four months.

Despite restriction on public meetings, the field staff of Agriculture Department has provided assistance to the farmers even during the lockdown days. The department officials claimed that even the kisan mela and farmers meets were not held but quality seeds, vegetable kits, bio-fertilisers and farm literature were available at all Krishi Vigyan Kendras, regional research stations, farm advisory help centers, Agriculture Department Offices and block offices. With the efforts of field staff, farmers did not face any problem during the paddy transplantation season.

The Covid-19 outbreak has led to shortage of staff and challenges to the farmers. But the Agriculture Development Officers made person-to-person contact on their mobiles and social media application and motivated the farmers for direct seeding of rice, diversification of crops and provide assistance for weed management. The officers claimed that they had succeeded in this practice. The field staff is continuously working to implement various laws, including The Insecticide Act (1968), Pesticides Act (1974), Fertilizer Control Order (1985) and Seed Act (1966). Apart from this, the Central and state government-sponsored farmer welfare schemes are also being implemented at the field level.

Speaking out

This time, our main focus was on direct seeding of rice as transplantation was a tough task because of the shortage of labour. We motivated our farmers and achieved good results. We have adopted new media technology as an alternative of mass meetings as kisan melas were cancelled this year. — Sukhbir Singh Sandhu, Majitha block ADO

We have advised farmers to avoid mass gatherings. But in case of any need, one can approach the Agriculture Department staff. We are always keen on providing them assistance. We meet farmers regularly by taking all precautions and apprise them of new techniques, especially direct seeding of paddy. — Gurpreet Singh, Harsha Chhina block ADO

We are in contact with farmers through WhatsApp groups. They send their queries about the crops, weeds, pesticides, diseases and marketing. We provide them online assistance. In case of some important development, we visit the farmers to answer their queries on fertilisers and pesticides. — Gurvinder Singh, Ajnala block ADO

All schemes and projects of the government are being implemented but mass meetings are being avoided. We are using social media applications to reach to the masses for awareness drives or to alert them. We have witnessed good results of direct seeding so far and farmers have cooperated with us at every level. — Satwinderbir Singh, Baba Bakala ADO

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