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Educating Farmers about Organic Farming

A project of PAGRI
Lamba_Photo of Self_1.JPG Harinder Lamba
Oak Forest, Illinois, US
$2,695pledged of $10,000 goal
$2,695goal: $10,000
Yes tax deductible

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We are excited to tell you that this project has been transformed from a small farmers marketing project to a major one on Organic Farming ! Please read and then Donate generously!

The project leader will still continue helping with farmers markets and getting the word out about Pagri activities.

What are the problems?

Many decades of “Green Revolution” agriculture have left Punjab with high levels of the use of water, chemical herbicides and pesticides and chemical fertilizers, and decreasing soil fertility, besides having a negative effect on economic and social welfare. So the time has come for gradual transitions to organic farming that begins to reduce these negative effects, while helping consumers overcome the negative health effects of cancer causing chemicals. Also, as of now, there is no direct support for organic farming from the government.

So what is Pagri doing?

That is why PAGRI is transitioning this project to one that provides, “Education and help to farmers to transition to organic farming” in the Faridkot district of Punjab. For this we have been fortunate to find a very capable, motivated, sincere and active person in Balwinder Singh, who has good knowledge of organic agriculture, to educate and encourage farmers and educate consumers.

Our Approach

Balwinderji will begin talking to farmers who have already started organic farming, conduct meetings, visit farmers to develop information and a database about them and encourage them to grow to a group of about 50 genuine farmers in the next 6 months. While he is doing this, he will be demonstrating to them and educating them about the right ways to do organic farming.

He has started to put together a training program to educate farmers about soil health, weed management, irrigation and water management, pest control, sale and marketing. Farmers markets, as were there at the start of this project will be used to disseminate information to farmers and while spreading the word about PAGRI support and activities, and most importantly, to help farmers increase their incomes, and educate consumers about the medical health benefits of organic produce so that they are willing to pay a premium, as happens in the USA.

Winter is a good time to try techniques

For a number of reasons, the winter months are more favourable for organic farming. Hence, PAGRI and Balwinderji will cooperate to encourage some farmers to demonstrate to other farmers, the benefits of organic farming by devoting some of their land to organic practices. Then in the winter months and in spring, these “demonstration plots” will be used to convince other farmers to undertake such practices in the next growing season.

What we have posted

Please check out the photos we have posted. Watching the short accompanying video sent to us by Balwinderji will give you an overall familiarity with what he is doing with the support of PAGRI. We hope that you will support this PAGRI project and the very worthwhile activities of the project led by Balwinder Singh by donating generously!!

  • 04/17/2023

    Visits to Farmers in Faridkot and Action items

    Dear Pagri Supporters and well wishers,

    Our Secretary Harinder Lamba visited Faridkot March 7-8, 2023 and was hosted by Balwinder Singh. Gurlal Singhji drove us around – thanks! Here are the action items and description of the visit.

    Faridkot – Action Items
    1.     Help 2-5 farmers with Desi chickens for eggs, together with chicken coop (shed) and enclosure to protect from stray dogs (all visited during trip). As my description will show, broilers are a very sad story and even one farmer who is rearing them, wants to desperately get out of raising them (these chicks were all sickly and expenses very high). Desi chicks may be procured from PAU at a discount. For each farmer that is helped we will need to know their annual farm income so that we can compare it with their income after we help them.. Also, Balwinder will need to begin providing regular reports that can be posted on website and on Dasvandh.
    2.     Gurmail Bhullar – NRI from Norway, Moga district – wants to do Integrated Farming on 1 acre (NO COST TO US – need Balwinder to spend a little time to guide – receives same chickens as Item 1 – he should be able to afford these on his own)
    3.     Fruit trees – 2-3 farmers to begin with – consider our Gurdaspur expert as supplier also (see below), or procure them from PAU at a discount.
    4.     Demonstration plots:
    a.     Help Gurlal Singh (1.5 acres) to develop full Integrated Model – he is fully willing.
    b.     Jasmeet Singh (owner of Implement business with turnover of Rs. 5 crore) is willing to have his 4 kanal farm near his house used as demonstration plot and integrated farming model (NO COST TO US – Balwinder is already helping him and would need to spend time)
    5.     Marketing Stands:
    a.     In summer heat they need a shade protected stand in middle of Faridkot town near their current stand on Tuesdays and Saturdays at 4:30 pm
    b.     A marketing stand at corner of two roads right next to farm of Gurlal Singh – major traffic here – this will help our areas farmers including Sukhwinderpal Singh who is nearby
    6.     Get help for about 40 Bee Keeping farmers for their honey processing (see below). We met with two farmers, one with 250 boxes and one with 120 boxes

    Description of Visit to Faridkot District with Balwinder Singh
    (March 7-8, 2023)

    Harvinder Nishkamji arranged for me to stay at the Dental College guest house (thanks to Baltej Singh also). It felt unique to be staying at a dental college residential campus where dental students reside. Kabal Singh, who was visiting from Edmonton Canada joined us for the visits on the first day (March 7). I believe he has expertise as a soil scientist. On the second day, Harvinder Nishkamji joined us. I stayed the night with him and early morning he left me on his scooter to the bus stand where I took the Volvo bus to Chandigarh.

    Kabal Singh’s thoughts and recommendations: Punjab has alluvial soil and it needs chemical and organic fertilizers. For grain, stalks and roots of 1 Quintal, of 15-20 Kg of nutrients only 5-7 Kg are left. If you rely only on organic fertilizer, in 2-3 years all the nutrients will be gone at current rates of production (?). He had sent an article by SPS Brar to Lal Singhji. Fertilizer increases yield by 3-4 times, and one needs to do soil test and apply fertilizer accordingly. Excess fertilizer is bad as it leaches down (or creates Algae blooms in lakes and causes a deficiency of oxygen in the water – it’s called biological oxygen demand or BOD).

    All of the cow manure will not provide enough fertilizer for Punjab. Still, every piece of organic matter should be recycled, and Nitrogen fixing plants should be used to the maximum – Alfalfa, peas, beans, burseem, etc. Nonetheless, Gurbinder Bajwa is indicating that after rice harvest, if the straw (parali) is used as mulch rather than burned, the chemical fertilizer need is less., less water is needed, and the plants are more robust and may need less pesticides and herbicides.

    Visits to Farmers at their farms

    1.     Jagmeet Singh – organic farmer – with a good section on many fruit trees. He was growing peaches, cjiku, papaya, guava, and Chinese guava (sweet). He was also growing both small and large leaf methi. Oats are used as feed for cattle. He would like to have goats and from sugar cane process jaggery.
    2.     Jasmeet Singh – He owns a Rs 5 crore business making farm implements – his 4 kanal farm is managed as an organic farm by Balwinder – this farm can be used as a demonstration plus education site. He is willing. We will attempt to convince him to include implements needed by small farmers in his business (Gurbinder Bajwa has designed some of these).
    3.     Kuldeep Singh & Harjeet Singh – Bee Keeping farmers with 250 and 120 boxes respectively – met at Kuldeep Singh’s house and not at their bee keeping farm – there are about 40 farmers that badly need help with a honey processing plant (estimate about Rs 20 lakhs for a plant that would meet the needs of the 40 farmers – this plant would sanitize the bottles, filter the honey and separate the wax extract and bee pollen. They also have beeswax and bee pollen (very tasty and nutritious) as side products they sell. Bees provide valuable pollination service for free. Kuldeep Singh also does wheat and rice on a 2.5 acre farm. Price of honey about Rs 350-400 per Kg – but they struggle against adulterated honey on the market (He filled out the form).
    4.     Udeekwan Singh: This visit was amazing. He had a large area under organic garlic (with mulch) as well as a very good onion nursery (paniri). He had a very good organic farm, has won many awards, and received a lot of training. One video was posted and another awards related video was posted later. He would benefit from action of a chicken section. He is an expert on growing organic garlic  and onion paniri (nursery).
    5.     Gurlal Singh: Owns a little over 3 acres and rents about 1.5 acre - He drove us around everywhere for two days. Some videos taken on his farm were posted. On many aspects he demonstrated a very high level of knowledge of crop varieties and organic farming. Goats can be added but need labor to manage for grazing.  He showed a few desi varieties of wheat on his farm that he was growing which local people want to eat – they don’t want to eat the high yielding green revolution varieties. (He had filled out form). He is willing to convert his farm totally to the integrated model.
    6.     Balwinder Singh (Our Project Leader): His own farm is about 4 kanal and is an amazing example of the organic approach – understand what is going on (pests, weeds and yield issues) and modify strategy accordingly rather than take short cuts by attacking with chemicals straight away – the organic approach works best and is the lowest cost in all areas except labor cost. His son is imbibing his knowledge – that’s the kind of education we need!!
    7.     Baldev Singh: He only raises chickens for meat and had about 2,000 birds in a brick and concrete shed. His broiler chickens were very unhappy and sickly and hardly able to stand (this was noted at least another roadside location where desi chickens were happy and robust and white broiler chickens were sickly). These need expensive company supplied feed (cost of each bag went up from Rs 1,300 to Rs. 2,200 recently, while the price fetched by fully grown chickens was the same or may go down. He seemed to have a good knowledge of organic farming. He is desperate to transition out of the broiler corporate controlled trap to desi chickens for eggs. (He has filled out form)
    8.     Baljit Singh: He has a little over 3 acres. This farmer is not only an excellent organic farmer but also has taught other farmers. He has a meager Rs. 2 lakhs annual income and would really benefit from the addition of Desi Chickens (He has filled out the form).
    9.     Marketing Stands: Visited a marketed stand manned by Joginder Singh and Jagsir Singh (organic farmers) in Faridkot town. This they do at 4:30 pm every Tuesday and Saturday. Their produce sells well and is in demand. Problems are that they are located at a very traffic congested site and that as summer temperatures rise it will get very hot. They badly need a covered shed constructed at slightly less congested location. Also, Gurlal Singh’s farm is on the intersection of major road and a side road – it would be beneficial to construct a small covered roadside farm stand to sell their organic produce at the intersection – this could be used by more than one farmer.
    Some of the things they mentioned that would help them:
    1.     Desi Free Ranging Chickens which they can sell under their own brand (First thought of Pagri to is to start with this).
    2.     Goats – but these need labor for grazing and milking
    3.     Cold storage
    4.     Honey processing
    5.     Training for the above


  • 01/24/2023

    Expanding Organic Farming

    Many many thanks to those who donated and have supported this project and Pagri.

    The transition from the Rice-Wheat Trap created by the so-called "Green Revolution" (industrial farming) to organic and natural farming is going to be slow. But we need to get out of that trap that leads to high cost tractors, implements, seeds, chemical fertilizer, and poisonous herbicides and pesticides - which often leads to high debt and often suicides. As a result, Punjab's soil and water resources have degraded. 

    Agriculture is an ecological process of microbes, insects and organic matter restoring soil fertility so that the "living soil" cooperates happily with a happy plant, and sunlight and small amounts of water to create produce that is clean, healthy and nutritious. Its not a chemical industrial process based on chemical warfare on all living things except the crop - as is practiced in Punjab and the world over.

    So, here our leader Balwinder Singh is beginning the slow but sure transition to organic farming by teaching a small group of farmers the new techniques that help them do low cost clean agriculture. These techniques can be much lower ibn cost, enabling us to cover more farmers.

    Here we are working to identify and support willing farmers who will implement new lower cost organic farming type practices, so that these farmer’s fields can act as demonstration sites and motivate other farmers to change their practices from the current wheat-rice monocultures. The objective here is to create a revolution among small farmers through actual ground level action. This also needs a parallel activity to convince consumers of the higher value of organic produce, so that they are willing to pay more for it (as now happens in the US).

    When this process succeeds, we will be ready to expand its area and to other farmers.


  • 10/31/2022

    Video from Leader - Request Support Pagri Project

    Video from Balwinder Singh on importance of Pagri Support for
    Educating and Helping Farmers to Transition to Organic Farming
    Please watch this short video from Balwinder Singh, the leader of this project.

    YouTube Video

    He thanks Pagri for initiating the support for this effort. He points out that it has been the high cost of chemical green revolution agriculture combined with glut caused depression of prices that has led to the increase in farmer suicides. Also, mono-cropping like in wheat and rice with hybrid seeds of a few varieties has been a vulnerable kind of agriculture, and that now there is a need for transition to diversity in crop varieties and a bigger emphasis on traditional varieties of seeds. He is educating, guiding and encouraging farmers to transition to organic farming methods by visiting them in their farm fields. He emphasizes that this is the way to improve Punjab’s soil, water and air and restore the state back to the “Rangla Punjab” of bygone times. This is also a good way to help and save small farmers.
    Please support the effort by donating to this Pagri project so that we can help more small farmers and help the needed transition in Punjab’s agriculture.

  • 09/11/2022

    Exciting Actions in Organic Farming

    Pagri is pursuing organic farming by encouraging existing farmers, forming a group of farmers under the leadership of Balwinder Singhji (an acknowledged expert), and is in the process oc convincing some of them to set up demonstration projects on their farms in the winter months. Our process will be slower but methodical.

    Your donations will help this process get established!

  • 09/04/2022

    Update on Education of Farmers for Organic Farming

    Dear Well Wishers,

    We are really excited about this project as we have a very knowledgeable and motivaed person leading this activity. After many years of "green revolution" type agriculture, it is difficult to get a farmer to begin to switch to Orgainc Farming - the process has to be gradual and the farmer needs guidance and understanding. Experience elsewhere ahs indicated that when a farmer makes the switch, there may be a year or two of adversity, but then the farmer's income increases as the cost of inputs is low. 

    With Balwinder Singhji's help we have gotten started and are supporting him in this activity and plan to support him until we acheive a high level of penetration of organic farming and the sale of fresh and processed organic produce. 

    Please donate generously as we need to support this project effectively. We are far from the fundraising goal and need your help to reach it by the end of 2022.

    Harinder Lamba

    Secretary, PAGRI

  • 03/20/2022

    Helping Farmers with Direct Marketing

    PAGRI continues to support the activities that will improve the incomes of farmers in Punjab and educate them towards types of farming that require less expensive and less environmentally damaging methods. We are providing support for the farmers market in Faridkot near the Punjab Agricultural University campus that assemble twice a week. We are in the process of hiring a person to man a table at the market, with PAGRI banner, flyers and  educational materials. 

Name Donation Date
G. S. $50.00 May 2023
Anonymous $100.00 May 2023
Surjeet Soundararaj $20.00 April 2023
G. S. $50.00 April 2023
G. S. $50.00 March 2023
G. S. $50.00 February 2023
G. S. $50.00 January 2023
Administrator Dasvandh Network $55.00 December 2022
G. S. $50.00 December 2022
G. S. $50.00 November 2022
Match Fund $110.00 November 2022
Amandeep Dhillon $110.00 November 2022
Match Fund $150.00 November 2022
Birender Singh $150.00 November 2022
Match Fund $100.00 November 2022
Manny Singh $100.00 November 2022
Match Fund $50.00 November 2022
Harinder Lamba $50.00 November 2022
Match Fund $50.00 November 2022
Tara Gardiner $50.00 November 2022
Anonymous $100.00 November 2022
G. S. $50.00 October 2022
G. S. $50.00 September 2022
Gurjeet Singh $50.00 August 2022
Anonymous $1,000.00 July 2022
Kirti Chawla $25.00 March 2022
Anonymous $50.00 December 2021
Anonymous $50.00 December 2021
Manny Singh $50.00 December 2021