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The All-India Pingalwara Charitable Society will hold a three-day zero budget workshop on Natural Farming from March 3 in honour of Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib ji on the occasion of Sikh Environment Day. The workshop will be held at Pingalwara Branch, Sangrur.
The President of All India Pingalwara Charitable Society, Bibi Inderjit Kaur, said that their organisation has benefitted from the production of natural farming for the past four years.
Mr Subash Palekar of Kheti Virasat Mission will teach local farmers techniques to cultivate their lands without using chemicals or pesticides in ways that require minimum investment. The Vice Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University Dr M.S. Kang will also deliver a lecture.
Bibi Inderjit Kaur said the founder of All India Pingalwara Charitable Society, Bhagat Puran Singh, believed that caring for the environment was a vitally important extension of Sikh faith, and this is a continuation of his project. She said that the land of five rivers is facing a serious water crisis. Natural farming can improve water levels and help reduce water pollution. The farmers will talk about producing their own seeds for the next crop and be independent by adopting natural farming.
In the beginning of the 20th century India struggled with food shortages and famine. Similarly, in the 21st century India is wrestling with issues concerning environment. The major food provider for India is Punjab. And the grain basket of Punjab is the Malwa region.
At present the Malwa belt is facing a grim future due to its detrimental environmental practices and lifestyle habits. The rural areas of Punjab are increasingly coming into focus for the spurt in cancer mortality and other diseases related to kidneys and mental and physical disabilities.
Studies show a deep, and worrying correlation between cancer mortality and chemical farming. There is a medium level correlation between cropping pattern and cancer mortality. Areas under cotton crop indicate a positive correlation with cancer mortality, while areas under paddy/rice cultivation reveal a negative correlation with cancer mortality. There is a significant correlation between pesticide residues in soil and water with cancer mortality.
Bhagatji was extremely worried about the deteriorating environment. He warned India almost 50 years back about the problems arising from deforestation, excessive use of petroleum products, exploding population and the need to conserve our water resources. Even today inadequate attention is being paid to these problem areas. There is an urgent need to plant more and more trees and make people aware about the worsening environment. In 2006 Pingalwara bought 35 acres of land near Jaindiala, 20 km from Amritsar. It is now an organic farm. Fresh fruits and vegetables are grown without using pesticides. Read more about their environmental outreach here.
Dr. Rajwant Singh, convener of EcoSikh, congratulated Dr. Inderjit Kaur and the Pingalwara institution and said, “This kind of intiative is needed in Punjab to stop the continuing damage with various chemical- and pesticide-based agricultural practices. We are also heartened to see that this is being dedicated to Guru Har Rai ji, who inspired Sikhs to care for nature and mother earth.”