In the Punjab—an outstanding farmer revisited

 Gene Hettel   |  
(Photo: Adam Barclay)

(Photo: Adam Barclay)

My father, S. Ram Singh, was a progressive farmer and I would say that I inherited from him the gene that bestowed upon me my love for agriculture. After earning my master’s degree in economics in 1960, I worked full time on this farm to produce seeds, as my father had. I also continued to grow various crops [wheat, potato, corn, ground nut]. In 1966, when the rice revolution came, I started to grow rice, not only as a commercial crop but also for seed production.

In 1985, to my great surprise, I got a big honor when I was recommended for an IRRI award as an outstanding farmer. My wife, Surjit, was also invited but, because of family reasons, she couldn’t accompany me. It was a great occasion. I was so excited and elated that such a huge international honor would come to me—something I had never even dreamed of. It was gratifying to meet the 13 other Asian farmers recognized that day. I was unique [among that group] because I was a seed producer.

I returned home with a “charged battery” because I had seen so many field trials at the IRRI research center—how to add fertilizer, the latest hybrid rice technology, etc. I wanted to share those things I learned with my fellow farmers here. I acquired this culture of sharing experiences from the International Farm Youth Exchange Program in America, which I attended in 1966. Generally, people want to keep their knowledge to themselves, maybe to put it in book form and sell it. But I had a commitment, a vow, to share my experiences, such as those I had at IRRI. When I came back from  IRRI, around 100 farmers came to me and asked many questions, which I tried to answer. So, I would say I was married to IRRI.


Mr. Hettel is the editor-in-chief of Rice Today

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