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A visit to Punjab, land of the five rivers

From vibrant Bhangra dance performances and delicious Punjabi cuisine in the villages, to discussions on sustainable farming and environmental challenges, last week’s visit by H.E Ambassador Nils Ragnar Kamsvåg exposed wonderful aspects of Punjabi culture and village life. The trip was organised to learn more about farming, environmental challenges, business opportunities and the political situation in Punjab.

As an introduction to the state, Ambassador Kamsvåg experienced a traditional village welcome in true Punjabi style. Crowned with a turban he was introduced to the achievements and challenges in the daily life of local farmers. Among recent positive development was a water replenishment project that had improved agriculture output in the village. The farmers also discussed challenges such as pollution of village ponds and excessive use of fertilisers.

Punjab is a large cotton producer, and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) had organised a field visit to look at their Better Cotton initiative (BCI). The initiative has reached 30% of the farmers so far, significantly bringing down the use of hazardous fertilizers and pesticides.

Punjab Agricultural University in Ludhiana plays a key role in the food producing state. Opportunities and current challenges were discussed in a meeting with the faculty. A trip to the experimental fields in the vast college campus gave insight into the valuable innovative solutions being developed at the University.

Norway has several research collaborations with the prestigious Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) in Chandigarh, and they showcased the ongoing joint project with University of Oslo on public health.

In Chandigarh meetings with Governor VP Singh Badnore and Chief Minister Amarinder Singh were also held, as well as a tour of the Capitol Complex, a government compound designed by the architect Le Corbusier and a UNESCO site.