Pakistan, 16 Oct 2003 -- Bangkok – Today, the FAO Regional Office in Bangkok has issued awards to three outstanding farmers from the Asia-Pacific Region. The farmers received the awards from HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn during the 2003 World Food Day celebration in Bangkok.
Muhammad Nawaz Dhillon – outstanding achievement in the special programme for food security
A progressive small farmer, Muhammad Nawaz Dhillon’s involvement in diverse social and agricultural activities has earned him a unique position in his Pakistan farming community. Now in his early 50s, Mr Nawaz – who is married and has three children – has 30 years of farming experience in growing wheat, sugarcane, maize and cotton on his four hectare-farm. His reputation as a progressive farmer dates back to 1970 when he discovered that specially prepared wheat seed sown in saline soil caused yields to jump impressively. The method was widely adopted and was the first of several ways Mr Dhillon has impacted agriculture in many surrounding villages in the province of Punjab.
Over the last two decades, he has devoted himself to helping people in his community. Because of his passionate concern for alleviating rural poverty, Mr Nawaz’s help was sought for the promotion of the Special Programme for Food Security in the district. Through dialogue and good example, Mr Nawaz overcame initial resistance from 130 farmers, and convinced the farming community to adopt new technologies for crop and water management, which made the project a success. Crop yields increased from 2.6 tonnes to 5 tonnes per hectare, and additional demands from farmers for learning other technologies have outpaced the extension department’s ability to keep up.
Elected by the farmers as president of the Village Organization, which he had introduced to mobilize support for the project, Mr Nawaz used the victory of the innovative food security ideas to mobilize funds from landowners and other agencies to advance a broadened development for and by rural families. As a member of various grassroot and religious committees, Mr Nawaz over the years has attracted support and funding for medical services, free eye camps, educational scholarships and funeral expenses for needy people in his community as part of his vision “to create an ideal village.”
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