Ludhiana, 22 Oct 2013 (BharatSandesh News):– Inaugurating a ‘Soybean Field Day’ organized by Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) at village Naraingarh (Fatehgarh Sahib) today, Punjab Farmers’ Commission Chairman, Dr. G.S. Kalkat said that diversification from paddy-wheat crop rotation is a must to sustain farming in Punjab. Continuous shrinking of underground water resources is a matter of great concern for which diversification from paddy, the water guzzling crop, is the need of the hour, he said. Describing soybean as the best crop to replace paddy, Dr. Kalkat said at present India imports Rs.55,000 crore of oilseed every year. Increased production of soybean in the country will lesser the country’s import burden as it will meet substantial portion of the oilseed needs of the country. "Since, the country is deficit in oilseed, there will be no problem in the marketing of soybean", he said.
Dr. Kalkat further said that to encourage the farmers to grow soybean, the commission has decided to purchase from farmers the entire soybean crop and will use it as seed crop for next season. He also described maize as another viable crop for diversification and informed that the state government is providing hybrid seed of maize to farmers on subsidy and facilities are being created for its processing and value addition.
Dr. Kalkat urged the farmers to devote atleast 1-2 kanal of their land for growing pulses. "It will keep you busy and will also provide cheap and nutritious food for your family" he remarked. Stressing on the need to educate children in the villages, Dr. Kalkat said that unless we educate our children in villages, we cannot think of any rural development. "Education of rural children is must for the progress of the state", he remarked.
In his address, Dr. Balwinder Singh Sidhu, Commissioner, Agriculture, Punjab said that pulse crops play an important role in the diversification mission of the state and soybean is the ideal pulse crop for Punjab farmers as it takes 122 days to mature which is equivalent to that of paddy crop. Describing the advantages of soybean, Dr. Sidhu said it requires just one irrigation compared to about 20 for paddy and being a leguminous crop it enriches the soil. The crop residue of soybean easily incorporates in soil increasing its fertility, he added.
Admitting that there are some difficulties in popularizing soybean in Punjab Dr Sidhu said efforts are on to develop better varieties and their matching production technologies for Punjab. "We will be able to give the farmer a new variety of soybean in a year or two", he said with a confidence.
Addressing the farmers, PAU Vice Chancellor, Dr. Baldev Singh Dhillon said that India has witnessed major increase in soybean cultivation. "From a mere 20,000 hectares under soybean in 1970, India now has 140 lakh hectare under soybean- a real revolution indeed," he remarked. Soybean is a nutritious crop rich of oil and proteins. Even the crop residue is very useful to enrich the soil, he said. Stressing the farmers to adopt its cultivation, Dr. Dhillon said, soybean can replace paddy. "Paddy cultivation was promoted by Govt. of India in 70’s when food security was of major concern. Now, we have sufficient food stocks and soybean should be promoted for nutrition security," he said. He called upon the farmers to give their feed back to University scientists as it helps them to redesign their research programs he said.
Addressing the farmers, Dr. Mangal Singh Sandhu, Director Agriculture Punjab said that Punjab Government is determined to promote cultivation of soybean and maize in the state in a big way. He informed that the government is giving 75 percent subsidy for hybrid maize seeds, as a result of which the area under maize has increased to 1.52 lakh hectare this year, from 1.29 lakh hectare last year. He further informed that two maize dryers have been setup- one in Hoshiarpur and another in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar. These dryers will help the farmers to reduce the moisture content of their produce and will help them fetch better price in the market. He informed that facilities for the processing/value addition of soybean and maize are being created in the state. It will give a big boost to soybean and maize cultivation in the state, he added.
On this occasion, Dr. S.K. Srivastva, Director, Directorate of Soybean Research, Indore, Madhya Pradesh who specially came to attend the field day said over the years soybean is getting importance from farmers, scientist and policy makers. There has been increase in the area under soybean and also its production which has gone up from 400-500 kg/hectare to 1300-1500 kg/hectare. He said since soybean contains 40 per cent protein and 20 per cent oil, it can greatly help in providing better nutrition to the people. Saying that the crop has the production potential of 4000 kg/hectare, Dr. Srivastava said farmers need to be provided better varieties and taught their production technology for achieving higher production in their fields.
Earlier, Dr. S.S. Gosal Director of Research PAU welcomed the Chief Guest and farmers. Dr. H.S. Dhaliwal Additional Director Extension Education proposed a vote of thanks. Dr. Kalkat and Dr. Srivastva were honoured with shawl and memento.