Tuesday, January 22, 2013



A two-day "Research and Extension Specialists' Workshop for Vegetable, Fruit and Flower Crops," organized by the Directorate of Extension Education of the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), commenced here today. The officers of the State Department of Horticulture, Directors of Regional Stations, Deputy Directors (Training) of Krishi Vigyan Kendras, Senior District Extension Specialists, Senior Officials of PAU and heads of the various departments of the University participated in the inaugural session. Dr Gurkanwal Singh, Joint Director (Horticulture), Punjab was also present on this occasion.

Speaking on this occasion, the Chief Guest, Dr Baldev Singh Dhillon, Vice-Chancellor, PAU, said that the importance of horticulture is surging as it plays a vital role in accelerating the growth of economy, employment generation, crop diversification, value addition, and nutritional security. At present, the Punjab state is facing the problem of crop diversification and agri-sustainability, he pointed out, while voicing concern over the livelihood and nutritional security of the growing population. Dr Dhillon observed that the demand for fresh and safe vegetables will also escalate with the burgeoning population and that there is a need to develop "model nutrition garden" for a standard family size. He divulged that the area under protected cultivation of vegetables in also increasing due to its advantages. Besides the development of crop varieties and farm technologies, the focus on agro-forestry, agro-processing, mushroom cultivation, flower production, farm mechanization, germplasm conservation, molecular marker and marketing of agri-produce is also essential. Dr Dhillon stressed, "To compete with the private sector, we need to work hard." He appreciated the efforts of the PAU experts for making large number of recommendations in just one year.

Dr L.S. Brar, Director of Horticulture, Punjab, highlighted that the cultivation of horticultural crops holds a great scope in terms of farm diversification. Revealing that three Centres of Excellence are coming up in Punjab to promote horticulture, he told that they would be established in Kartarpur, Hoshiarpur and Bathinda districts of the state. Dr Brar called upon the farm experts to develop varieties suitable for meadow orchards, pay attention to the canopy management of the plants, and evolve effective measures for the management of red mites in the net-house. Dr Brar expressed concern over the depleting underground water table and suggested the recommendation of drip irrigation alongwith fertigation. He also dwelt upon the targets, production and problems in growing of vegetables, fruits and flowers.

Highlighting the salient findings of research on vegetable, fruit and flower crops, Dr S.S. Gosal, Director of Research, PAU, disclosed that PAU has developed several new crop varieties which are subject to approval. The varieties include "Daisy and W. Murcott" of mandarin; "Shweta" of guava; "PBH 3" of brinjal; "Punjab Tej and Punjab Sindhuri" of chilli; "PG 44" of gladiolus; and "Pansy 13 and Pansy 32" of Pansy. He said that the horticultural crops play a key role in agri-diversification and income enhancement.

Earlier, welcoming the dignitaries and the participants, Dr D.S. Cheema, Dean, College of Agriculture, PAU, said that with the passage of time, the agriculture scenario is also undergoing a drastic change. As many other states have started producing wheat and rice, crop diversification in Punjab is necessary and that the production and marketing of these two major crops also requires attention. In addition to laying thrust on seed production, Dr Cheema emphasized that crop varieties, exclusively for protected cultivation, should be developed.

The Director of Extension Education, Dr M.S. Gill, proposing the vote of thanks, said that the Punjab agriculture is passing through the crisis as many farm challenges are becoming a matter of serious concern. Therefore, the cultivation of horticultural crops has a great scope with regard to crop diversification, maintaining soil health, and water conservation, he added. The feedback received from the state functionaries is important for the re-orientation of the research programmes, he stated.

The Additional Director of Research (Horticulture), Dr H.S. Dhaliwal highlighted the characteristics of the crop varieties, evolved by PAU and are subject to approval. Besides, he also explained about the production and plant protection technologies and the farm machinery like pick positioner, developed for picking of fruits and pruning of orchard trees.

The first technical session on "Fruits" was chaired by Dr L.S. Brar and coordinated by Dr T.S. Riar, Associate Professor of Extension Education. The session saw deliberations on citrus, pear, grapes, mango, guava, litchi, ber, sapota, peach and other stone fruits; and minor fruits such as amla, banana, etc.

An exhibition, put up by various departments of the PAU, showcased the University farm publications, protected cultivation of flowers, current focus of vegetable research, net-house cultivation of vegetables, area and production of fruits in Punjab, health beverages, production of red wine and natural vinegar, economics of agro-forestry, farm machinery ( vegetable digger, vegetable seed extractor, manual onion seeder, etc.) and the newly released varieties of various crops.
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