Agricultural Seminar in Kirpal Sagar, November 2017

If Mother Earth is sick, how can her children survive?

The main topic was organic agriculture. Various experts from India, an organic farmer from Austria and a speaker from Germany spoke. An accompanying exhibition illustrated the broad scope of the topic.

The exhibition

Between 10.30 and 11.00 the visitors came to have a look at the exhibition stands. Various items such as concentrated feed for cattle,  agricultural products  like vegetable oils and pickled fruits and organically produced pulses and spices were exhibited.

The nursery sold plants, decorative items and seeds, and the carpentry of Kirpal Sagar exhibited wooden furniture. In addition, soap and washing powder from Kirpal Sagar could be purchased. A small stand showed traditional agricultural objects from the Punjab.  Also of interest was a large book bus from Delhi, sponsored by the Ministry of Education, which offered books for loan and sale. There were mainly children’s books, from picture books to natural science textbooks, in Punjabi and in English, as well as books on Indian history and tradition.

The Agricultural Seminar

The panel was made up of qualified research experts, for example from the research department of a university in Ludhiana, and representatives of agricultural practice.

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All speakers stressed the need to protect the soil, reduce chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and to respect and use nature’s cycles. In nature, one living creature derives sustenance from another, and in the long run one cannot work against the laws of nature. It was agreed that environmental toxins are a major problem for human health and that urgent action is needed.

The scientific side cited findings on the availability of nutrients and minerals in the soil, on the circulation of oxygen and on the effect of agricultural practices on the quality of water.

Monocultures and the handling of pests in organic farming were also discussed.

From their practical experience, several farmers confirmed that the soil has better value and could produce even higher harvests with long-term organic farming. An Indian farmer who had been cultivating sugar cane for many years described very vividly that the plants yield more if they have sufficient space and are well supplied by the soil. He said he had sown less seed than other farmers and had still reaped a higher harvest.

Moringa cultivation in Kirpal Sagar was presented and it was emphasized that the soil in the fields which had been organically cultivated for 3 years, are already free of pesticides and heavy metals today. Also discussed was the fact that other field crops could be cultivated there. In addition, water is saved in organic farming. The speaker made it clear that organic, sustainable farming is necessary in order to feed all the people in the world in a healthy way. “Good, nutritious food is our medicine”.

The organic farmer from Austria presented the example of his organic dairy farm cheese production and described the challenge of maintaining the soil in such a way that it always produces the same high yield in the long term. The remuneration per litre of milk is no higher than in India, but the wage costs are 50 times higher. In Europe, it is therefore very important for farmers to network so that they can market their products at a reasonable price and negotiate at eye level with trading partners. And that certainly applies to India as well. After about 30 years of organic farming, the importance of thinking globally and acting regionally is now clear. Everyone should be able to produce healthy food in their own country.

Career prospects for the young generation through organic farming

A further focus which several speakers impressively described was the professional prospects for the young generation. Today, many young people from India want to go abroad because they expect better career opportunities there. Modern agriculture offers great potential for qualified people. The Punjab is considered to be India’s breadbasket and one of the most important agricultural regions, and it offers great development opportunities. One should value the potential in one’s own country.

A former politician from Nawanshahr addressed the audience with moving words of how pleased she was that the work of Dr. Harbhajan Singh and Biji Surinder Kaur in Kirpal Sagar was continuing to develop and spread internationally. She said that she had the opportunity to spend some time abroad. She came back to promote development in the Punjab because she loves her country. When she asked the students what their parents do, many replied that their parents are working in agriculture. However, they themselves want to become engineers or doctors. She appealed to the young people to look for qualified jobs in modern agriculture in the Punjab and to seize their professional opportunities here.

A young IT engineer who had studied in Canada also returned to the Punjab to share his knowledge of digital communication, marketing and process control in agriculture. He himself is an example to the young generation of how the skills acquired abroad can be put to good use in their own country. In particular, he called for the students to bring their skills to bear here.

In general, the first agricultural seminar in Kirpal Sagar was a positive one, because the interest and need for exchange were high, the topic is very important, and one in which Kirpal Sagar can serve as a decisive role model.