Monday, February 14, 2011



The two-day state level Research and Extension Specialists Workshop for Kharif crops organized by Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) was inaugurated, today. In his inaugural address, Dr. Manjit Singh Kang, Vice-Chancellor, PAU said that agriculture is the strength of the economy of India and supports the livelihood of over 68% of rural people. It contributes to nearly 20% to the national development, he said adding that the efforts for food security are jeopardized by burgeoning population and the non-sustainability of agriculture. Dr. Kang shared that the green revolution technologies brought self-sufficiency on the food front and that in 1974 self-sufficiency in all cereals was achieved in the state. He elaborated that during the period 1950-2006, food grain production followed a rate of 2.5% as against 2.1% of population growth rate. However, the food grain production had a plateau and the rate became below that of the population growth. The food grain production should match the growing needs of population, he observed.

Dr. Kang said that India\'s population will touch 1.4 billion in 2026 necessitating concerted efforts for enhancing agricultural production. Population growth coupled with rapidly improving living standard will have greater demand for food, feed, fiber and fuel, observed he. The land, water and other resources vital for improving productivity are diminishing, said Dr Kang adding that working to address sustainability concerns was thus important. Due to large scale cultivation of paddy, the demand for water for irrigation is causing a serious mis-match between the availability and consumption. Lauding the role of Punjab Agricultural Minister, S. Sucha Singh Langah, in effectively implementing the paddy transplanting after June 10 in the state, Dr. Kang said that needed measures for water saving were still important. The water saving options are: use of laser leveler, diversification of cereal based farming toward non-cereal (horticultural) crops, crops/varieties requiring less water, adopting water saving technologies (drip, sprinkler irrigation, tensio-meter-aided irrigation in paddy ),etc. For improved water use and desired crop production, the promotion of modern methods of irrigation would be required as the traditional method of flood irrigation. PAU remained on the forefront in the country in the agricultural development through evolving the needed technologies. It has so far released/recommended more than 700 varieties of different crops at the national/international level together with the matching production and protection technologies. Punjab contributed 60-70% wheat and 30-40% rice to the national pool of food reserves, during different years.

Dr. Kang said that climate change is a new threat to the food security. It can lead to significant losses in crop production in the country. He informed that PAU recently organized an international conference on \'Preparing agriculture for climate change\' wherein prominent scientists and climatology experts from different parts of the world deliberated on this vital issue. Expressing a great concern for improving the economy of farmers, the Chief Guest said that the PAU played a great role in solving the problem of food shortage through formulating need-based programmes of technology generation and transfer to farmers. He added that the research and extension efforts should be in the direction of making agriculture profitable.

For boosting production level of different Kharif crops, the Joint Director, Agriculture, Punjab, Dr. Gursewak Singh said, the production targets for the forthcoming Kharif crops have been set. Dr. Singh highlighted several issues in the face of agriculture that included the declining profitability in agriculture, popularization of hybrid varieties for promoting yields, educating farmers about applying fertilizers based on soil test reports for maintaining soil health, diversification of agriculture by recommending crops alternative to paddy, etc. Dr. Singh further said that although PAU has evolved excellent crop varieties, the availability of their seeds need to be enhanced. He also suggested that for seed treatment, motorized seed treatment drums need to be developed. \'Integrated Pest Management (IPM) of major corps together with appropriate spray technology should to be popularized among farmers through trainings and field days\', said Dr. Singh. He also drew attention of experts on developing technologies aimed at post harvest management of farm produce and their value addition so that farmers could get better profitability. Dr. Singh said that the trainings should have enhanced practical component so that the extension efforts prove useful. He suggested that knowledge banks with PAU farm literature need to be developed in different parts of the state.

Giving details of the research achievements, PAU Director of Research, Dr. S.S. Gosal said that a new variety of desi cotton namely, FDK-124 has been recommended. The variety matures early and is high yielding, he said adding that its average productivity is 9.3 q per acre giving average fiber length of 21 mm and that it tolerates attack of thrips and white fly pests. Dr. Gosal said that two hybrid varieties of maize namely, PMH-4 and PMH-5 have been recommended at the national level. He also gave details of the various production (2) and protection (5) technologies for various crops evolved by the University. He said that the scientists have developed technologies which are practicable, cost-effective and eco-friendly. He said that efforts were being made to revamp seed production progrmmes of different crops and that from next year seed of potato and cuttings of poplar will be made available to growers in adequate quantity. He said that the extension personnels of Department of Agriculture and PAU can play a role in the popularization of resource saving devices such as leaf colour chart and tensiometer among farmers.

While proposing a vote of thanks, Director of Extension Education, Dr. M.S.Gill said that agriculture is a complex subject wherein PAU and Directorate of Agriculture, Punjab can jointly work. He said that balanced use of nutrients is a must for which the soil testing labs need further strengthening. Dr. Gill said that for the sake of maintaining soil health and environment integrated nutrient management and IPM technologies developed by PAU are useful. He added that the 17 Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) in different parts of the state can help transfer the technology capsule for different crops recommended by PAU. He suggested the extension personnel of State Development Departments to provide feedback to PAU so that its scientists are able to re-orient their programmes to make them need-based and of use to farmers. Dr. Gill said that livelihood security, natural resource management and profitable agriculture were the crucial areas demanding attention.

Earlier, Dr. D.S.Cheema, Dean, College of Agriculture welcomed the dignitaries and participants to the workshop. He highlighted that agriculture is fast changing and scientists should strive to catch up by developing technologies to address the emerging challenges.

The scientists of PAU deliberated on new research findings made since the last workshop and got feedback from the extension personals of State Department of Agriculture. Dr.Kang visited the exhibition of latest farm technologies that was put up on the occasion and released the publications \'Use of mat type nursery and transplanting machinery for paddy\', \'Improved design and cost estimates of net houses\', and \'Rainwater harvesting from roof top for groundwater recharge\' authored by PAU scientists.

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