Monday, November 5, 2012



"India produced a record 93 million tonnes of wheat during 2012 harvest, thus, creating a mountain of surplus grain. But the share of Punjab in country's wheat production has declined from 22.3 per cent in 2001 to nearly 17 per cent in 2012. It will decline further to 13 per cent by 2030." This was pointed out by Dr Subrahmaniam Nagarajan, former Chairman, Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights Authority, Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India. Dr Nagarajan, an internationally known wheat pathologist, was here at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) today, to deliver his talk on the topic "For whom are we producing this huge amount of wheat", organized by PAU Science Club as a part of Golden Jubilee celebrations.

Dr Baldev Singh Dhillon, Vice-Chancellor, PAU, Dr R.K. Mahey, PAU Registrar, Dr Rakesh Tuli, Executive Director, National Agri-food Biotechnology Institute, Mohali; Dr R.S. Sangwan, Chief Executive Officer, Bio-Processing Unit, Mohali; PAU deans, directors, heads, faculty members and students attended the guest lecture.

Dr Nagarajan observed that wheat quality research in India lacks innovation and that research on genomics is not cohesive/aggressive. Saying that the rice-wheat cropping pattern is sound in Punjab during good and timely monsoon, he suggested integration of departments and programmes relating to wheat improvement, economics, engineering and product development under one platform i.e. "Wheat Technology Development Centre" with functional autonomy. Impressing upon the farm universities to link farmer with industry, Dr Nagarajan advised the experts to focus on their wheat programmes and make a paradigm research shift to promote innovation and to develop high-value products.

Peninsular India (Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Goa, Karnataka) consume value added high quality wheat products, he told, adding that varied types of flour such as stone crushed full grain flour and maida are also in great demand. Referring to wheat flakes, Dr Nagarajan said that there is enough scope for research and development to make triticale, wheat, durum and barley mix muesli. Tamil Nadu and Kerela are front-runners in terms of bakery, informed the scientist, while dwelling upon an array of wheat breads. About wheat gluten, fibres, bran, germ oil, malt and straw products, Dr Nagarajan highlighted that functionality of wheat gluten is unique and its structural integrity after cooking is persistent. Wheat fibres provide excellent water and oil retention, wheat bran is highly unsaponifiable and that wheat germ oil is good for heart, said he. Pointing out that ports are far away from Punjab and that exports are largely viable from Gujarat (known for 80 per cent of value addition) and Rajasthan, Dr Nagarajan stressed on increasing value-added wheat bio-product export from Amritsar and Chandigarh.

Appreciating the enlightening lecture by the scientist, Dr Dhillon exhorted the PAU scientists of Plant Breeding and Genetics; Food and Nutrition; Food Science and Technology; and Processing and Food Engineering to work collectively towards processing and value addition of wheat products. He honoured the scientist with a memento.

Earlier, Dr D.S. Cheema, Dean of College of Agriculture and officiating Dean of Postgraduate Studies, welcomed the dignitaries and the participants and highlighted the achievements of the speaker. Dr B.S. Sohal, Secretary of the Club, proposed the vote of thanks.

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