Setting an example for the youngsters and breaking the myth of age and occupation, Sh. Sukhdev Singh, a septuagenarian army veteran has become a pioneering and most progressive orchardist of Kathua district.By his resolve and determination to learn with age being no constraint, the orchardist of kandi belt of Kathua has shown farmers of his area the way to get maximum out of limited resources.Coming a long way, the army veteran Sukhdev Singh, is a successful progressive orchardist and is presently earning over Rs 5.0 Lakh per annum from his grove of fruit trees.Recipient of many awards, the journey of Sh. Sukhdev Singh as a progressive agriculture farmer and orchardist began just after his superannuation in 1989, after serving the Indian Army for 24 years. He is the owner 120 Kanal piece of land situated in village Pranjali, Dinga Amb-B panchayat block and tehsil Dinga Amb District Kathua.He was conferred with the best farmer award in the year 2003, by the then agriculture minister for his great contribution in the field of agriculture and as convener of farmers’ society and again in 2017-2018 in a district level event organized in district headquarter Kathua.As on date, he has converted 3.5 ha of his ownership land into orchard having 250 Mango trees, 165 citrus (K–Lime=100, Galgal=50, Mandarin=20) trees, 30 Litchi plants, 08 Pear (William) trees, 10 Guava and 20 miscellaneous (Phalsa, Jackfruit, Loquat, Caronda etc) fruit trees with a total grove of 493 assorted fruit plants.As per Horticulture Department, his annual production from Mango trees is between 200-300 Qtn; 06-10 qtn; from Citrus and 05-10 quintals from other fruit trees which fetch him an income of over Rs five lakh per annum.To achieve this feat, Sh Sukhdev Singh has availed financial assistance from the department of horticulture for establishment of new orchard, protected cultivation (Poly green House), creation of irrigation infrastructure ( deep bore well ) and pack house for storage of produce.
Besides, he was facilitated with exposure visits and training programmes within the state, said HDO Hiranagar Daljeet Singh.Sukhdev Singh is innovative and adaptive to the advancements in the field of agriculture/Horticulture. He always has a great passion for fruit trees which drove him towards horticulture as a result of which he is recognized today as a one of the most progressive orchardist of district Kathua, Chief Horticulture Officer Sushil Angurana informed.The CHO Kathua disclosed that Sh Sukhdev Singh is a known person in the area as his amicable behaviour, interest, achievements and contributions in the field of agriculture and horticulture have won him great respect. He is a role model for the local community of farmers as well as the youth of his area as he is always ready, not only by sharing farming implements, but also by sharing insight of his practical farming experience spanning over 30 years.His name is even recommended as president of the Self Help Group by the local Panchayat body for the establishment of “Farm machinery Bank in village” Pranjali as a village with low farm power availability during the year 2019-2020. The necessary codal formalities and documentation in this context have been received by this office and forwarded officially to the higher ups for necessary approval, disclosed CHO.The older man have also opted Gober Gas Plant waste of which is utilised in growing arrays of organic vegetables for personal consumption as well as for commercial sale.While sharing his experience Vetran Armyman Sh. Sukhdev Singh said age is just a number if you have passion for something you can overcome every barrier and obstructions. Being a resident of kandi I understand the shortcomings one faces especially when you have limited water resources which can be channelized with the technical know-how of the departments like agriculture, horticulture etc, he added. Adopting Rain water harvesting coupled with proper selection of plant variety are key for sustainable farming in areas like our kandi village.In his message to youth Sh. Sukhdev Singh said, the youth must learn and adopt new techniques in primary livelihood activities like agriculture and horticulture by implementing technical know-how, training and exposure tours offered by the department from time to time.