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PAU to hold virtual kisan mela for Rabi season

Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) will be cancelling its kisan mela (farmers’ fair) for the Rabi season and instead organising a virtual mela because of social distancing issues during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The university, which had earlier cancelled the mela for Kharif crops in March, will reach out to farmers through mobile applications, webinars and YouTube videos.

PAU experts are planning to hold a month-long programme to educate people on various farming techniques and methods to be adopted in the coming season.

Confirming the development, PAU vice-chancellor (VC) Baldev Singh Dhillon said, “We have decided to bring the kisan mela to farmers’ houses across the northern region with the help of technology.”

He said as necessity was the mother of all inventions, PAU was “laying emphasis on communication technology tools such as PAU Kisan App, PAU Kisan Portal, PAU Farm inputs, Kheti Sandesh, PAU agro advisory bulletin, PAU live streaming Webinar, facebook page, PAU YouTube channel, WhatsApp groups and Kisan mobile advisory service (KMAS) developed by PAU for rapid diffusion of improved agriculture knowledge to farming communities.”

The PAU kisan melas, which began as kisan divas in 1967 at Gurdaspur, attract a large number of farmers from across and outside the state.

Over three lakh farmers were estimated to have visited the two-day mela in Ludhiana in September last year.

The fairs also also generate huge revenues for the university as many national and international companies vie for space to display their products.

Workshop on Zoom

In order to expand its digital footprint, PAU’s Directorate of Extension Education also conducted its annual research and extension specialists’ workshop on Rabi Crops online. It was organised by the Directorate of Extension Education, at PAU through the online Zoom application.

In his address, the chief guest, Dr Dhillon expressed delight at the impressive online presence of 408 participants and congratulated the scientists of PAU, kisan vikas kendras (KVKs), the agriculture department and the farmers for accomplishing the task of wheat harvesting and marketing in an exemplary manner, despite the nationwide lockdown.

Dr Dhillon also said deliberations were continuing on how Rabi crops would be made available to farmers. “Online payment modes are being discussed. We are thinking of sending the seeds at KVKs located across the state,” he added.

Kharif is harvested in September and rice is the principal Kharif crop. Rabi is sown after October and its principal crop is wheat.

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