The Kisan Mela of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) held at the Regional Station, Gurdaspur today, witnessed a heavy footfall. The theme of the Kisan Mela was “PAU Kheti Sifarshan Faslan Layi Vardan, Vigyanic Kheti Naal Hi Safal Hon Kirsan”. The Mela was inaugurated by S. Hardev Singh Riar, Member, Board of Management while Dr Baldev Singh Dhillon, Vice Chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana presided over the function. Dr Rajinder Singh Sidhu, Director Extension, PAU, Dr Major Singh Dhaliwal, Additional Director Research (Horticulture) and Dr G.S. Butter, Additional Director Extension Education were also present on the occasion. In his inaugural address, Sr. H.S. Riar, greeted the gathering and said that the prime objective of such pastoral fairs is two-way interaction between the agricultural scientists and the farmers. Equating the kisan melas to knowledge-encapsulated events, he advocated a two-pronged strategy for ensuring a lucrative agricultural enterprise, viz., judicious expenditure and adoption of subsidiary ventures. Suicide is not the answer to adversity in agriculture, he said, adding that it should instead be faced with a renewed gusto to pursue scientific agriculture which would certainly prove fruitful. Towards the end, he lauded the role of PAU for the relentless efforts put in by its scientists for serving the farming community. Delivering his presidential remarks, Dr B.S. Dhillon, congratulated the farmers on three counts. Firstly, he announced that permission had been granted by the State Government to start a KVK at Pathankot. Secondly, he applauded the farmers for adopting resource conservation technologies like laser land leveler, tensiometer, late sowing varieties of paddy, etc., in consonance with the dire need to conserve water for posterity and, such steps have already started bearing fruit. Thirdly, he praised astute fertilizer use by the farmers which had lead to DAP consumption worth Rs 600 crore lesser this year. Dr Dhillon drew attention to the matchless symbiotic relationship between scientists and the farmers which these kisan melas have been able to establish over a period of time. Commending the farmers for their regular inputs, he said they aided in reprioritizing as well as reorienting research at PAU. He suggested the farmers that the initial trials of new varieties be conducted on a small scale only and the results be shared with the scientists. In addition to citing crop diversification as the way forward, Dr Dhillon stated that subsidiary activities like beekeeping, cultivating fruits and vegetables would be conducive for economic sustainability. He further pointed out that mechanized farming and marketing facilitated by cooperatives could result in drastically low input and labour costs. To enhance agri-profits, Dr Dhillon suggested the farmers to take stock of their farm expenses regularly, use improved seed and shun unnecessary expenditure. Advising against indiscriminate use of pesticides, Dr Dhillon proposed manual weeding in case the problem was not acute. He expressed satisfaction over the collective efforts of the State Government, the University and the farming community to curb the white fly menace. Cautioning against paddy stubble burning, he said the plumes of smoke posed a great threat to environmental, human and soil health while using it as compost can enhance soil fertility. Dr M.S. Dhaliwal, Additional Director of Research (Horticulture), PAU, elaborated upon several new varieties of seeds released by the university. Informing about improved technologies, he highlighted the use of cling film in packaging for increasing shelf life of vegetables, pouch packaging for tomato juice, use of the improvised Lucky Seed Drill instead of the traditional suhaga, the use of Biofertilizer Consortium to improve the seed variety, use of Happy Seeder instead of paddy straw burning and also the use of Leaf Colour Chart to identify the exact amount of urea required. Referring to future priorities, Dr Dhaliwal said that PAU’s research was focusing on judicious use of water and on developing heat tolerant, pest resistant and mechanized harvestable varieties. Dr R.S. Sidhu, Director Extension, PAU, while welcoming the dignitaries and the farmers, urged the farmers to follow PAU recommendations. He exhorted them to attend trainings imparted at the seventeen KVKs of the university. Such trainings would arm them with the latest knowledge to tackle the challenges which came in the form of weather, weeds, pests, etc. Later, Dr. Ram Sakal Singh, Director, Regional Research Station, Gurdaspur proposed the vote of thanks to the gathering. Several stalls with exhibits as diverse as implements, improved seeds, solar energy, farm literature, etc., were put up at the mela. The scientists of PAU answered a volley of questions from the farmers during an interactive session. The Chief Guest was honoured by Dr B.S. Dhillon with a memento and shawl. Besides, Sr. Amrik Singh, Agriculture Officer (Incharge, Soil Testing Lab, Pathankot) and Sr. Harmanpreet Singh, a Diploma Holder from KVK, Gurdaspur and currently working as a Correspondent with Punjabi daily Ajit, were also honoured. The students of Institute of Agriculture, Gurdaspur enthralled the audience with bhangra performance.