Thursday, March 31, 2011



A delegation from Malawi led by Prof. George Kanyama Phiri, Coordinator Green Revolution Programme, Government of Malawi visited Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), today. The other members of the delegation included Mr. K.S.A. Moyo, Deputy High Commissioner, Malawi High Commission, Mr. Bartholomew W. Ngauma, Deputy Director of Crop Development, Department of Crop Development, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Government of Malawi, Mr. N.K.Manshani and Mr. Raghav Nevatia, respectively General Manager and Incharge International Trade Division, Cosmos International Ltd., and Mr. Lovemore Ndege, Investment Promotion Executive. The delegation held a meeting with Dr. Manjit Singh Kang, Vice-Chancellor, PAU in which the Director of Research, Dr. S.S.Gosal, Director of Extension Education, Dr. M.S.Gill and Deans of the constituent Colleges of PAU participated.

Prof. Phiri highlighted the green belt project to augment the input subsidies programmes which has assisted Malawi to achieve food security over a short period of time. He conveyed the interest of Her Excellency, Dr. Chrissie Chawanje Mughogho, who paid a visit to PAU in August last, to link Malawi agricultural institutions to PAU. He said that the present visit was a follow up. PAU has been known as an epicenter of green revolution, said Prof. Phiri, adding that the success story of PAU has much to offer to the rest of the world, especially to Malawi. He drew a comparison of the agrarian issues between Malawi and Punjab. Prof. Phiri said that the GDP from agriculture in Malawi is around 30% and the challenges to food security included soil related issues and water use efficiency. He said that the efforts required to sustain agriculture in Malawi included reduction in the fertilizer use, handling of food surplus, climate change and the involvement of private sector in agriculture.

Dr. Kang welcomed the delegates to PAU. Apprising the delegation members about how the green revolution took roots in Punjab, he said that Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, who visited India in 1963, some 18000 tons of seeds of a few good varieties of wheat were imported in 1966 from Mexico. This was the beginning of green revolution in India, said Dr. Kang adding that it geared up with improvements in technology, service sector, public policies related to the price of inputs and output. PAU was one of the institutes to receive seed of Mexican wheat variety and to begin development of new varieties. The new seeds required larger inputs-irrigation, fertilizers and pesticides than local varieties to yield the desired productivity output. The government had pro-farmer policies and made available the required inputs to give a boost to agriculture, said Dr. Kang. He said that self-sufficiency in wheat and all cereals was achieved in 1972 and 1974, respectively. Dr. Kang said that since its inception in 1962, PAU has developed nearly 700 varieties of 95 crops and has always kept diversification in focus. The green revolution, paying dividends on many accounts, also had some ecological and economic fall outs such as depletion of water, deterioration of soil, problems of straw management resulting into a fatigue. The PAU has tuned its programmes of technology generation and dissemination from time to time to suit the emerging needs, he said. Dr. Kang highlighted the collaborative programmes that PAU has developed with various foreign Universities in agricultural education, research and technology transfer. He offered support to the Malawi universities in any area that will be identified as mutually beneficial in collaboration mode.

The Director of Research, Dr. S.S.Gosal discussed the technologies generated by PAU for natural resource conservation, environment protection and enhancing productivity. The Director of Extension Education, Dr. M.S.Gill shared the technology outreach mechanism of PAU and highlighted that the PAU research stations, Krishi Vigyan Kendras and Farm Advisory Service Scheme were catering to the needs of farmers through advisement, demonstrations, training camps, etc. Dr. Gill told about the technologies such as laser land leveler, tensio meter to save water in paddy, leaf colour chart to save nitrogen use in paddy and maize while explaining the working of these technologies to the delegates. He said that farmers repose full confidence in PAU as was evident from the huge participation of farmers and farm women in PAU programmes and Kisan Melas.

Dr. Neelam Grewal, Dean, College of Home Science explained about the rural agriculture work experience (RAWE) under which suitable interventions are carried out based on the appraisal studies of the area. She highlighted various capacity building measures of benefit to farmers and farm women.

Dr. P.P.S.Lubana, highlighted the studies being carried out to popularize water saving technologies among farmers. Dr. P.K.Khanna shared that the programmes in Basic Sciences render support to agricultural technology generation. He also spoke about the mushroom cultivation technology that PAU has developed for the year round mushroom growing. The current focus was on medicinal mushrooms, he said. Punjab currently produces nearly half of the total national mushroom production in India.

Dr. D.S.Cheema, Dean, College of Agriculture shared about the educational programmes in agriculture including B. Sc. Agriculture (four years) and B. Sc. Agriculture (six year programme). Dr. Gursharan Singh, Dean, Postgraduate Studies said that 35 departments including three schools were catering to different teaching programmes. He added that the B. Sc. Programmes in Food Technology and Bio-technology were very popular.

Mr. Moyo and Mr. Ngauma discussed about the subsidy structure prevailing in Punjab and the mechanism of its availability. The delegation members evinced keen interest in pursuing programmes with PAU in the area of capacity building in agricultural research and extension education. Dr. Kang said that those countries who excel in agriculture have strong extension system.

The Additional Director of Communication, Dr. Jagtar Singh Dhiman, coordinated the visit and presented an overview of the organizational set up of PAU. The delegation members were presented with dockets of information about PAU and a University souvenir.
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