Thursday, April 25, 2013



Aiming at strengthening the ties for collaborative research and education, the existing memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and the Kansas State University (KSU), USA, was extended for another period of five years. Dr Baldev Singh Dhillon, Vice-Chancellor, PAU, and Dr John D. Floros, Dean, College of Agriculture, and Director Kansas State Research and Extension, KSU, signed the MoU on behalf of the respective institutions.

The visiting five-member delegation was led by Dr John D. Floros, and comprised members namely Dr Nina Lilja, Dr Gary Pierzynski, Dr Sajid Alvi and Dr Vara Prasad. The delegation held an elaborated discussion with the senior officials, deans, additional directors, heads, and faculty of the various departments of the PAU here today.

Presenting the research highlights of the PAU, Dr S.S. Gosal, Director of Research, said that this University has developed/recommended 717 crop varieties/hybrids since its inception. The PAU has strong crop improvement and seed production programmes, he informed. Dr Gosal pointed out that the depletion of underground water in Central Punjab, shrinking land holdings, deterioration of soil health, unsustainability of paddy-wheat system, abrupt climate change, high production cost and reduced profitability are some of the current farm issues, being confronted in the contemporary agriculture in the Punjab state, he added.

Welcoming the delegation, dignitaries, and the faculty members of the PAU, Dr Gursharan Singh, Dean, Postgraduate Studies, gave an overview of the organizational set-up of the University with special emphasis on the academic programmes of the University. Highlighting the national/international collaborations, Dr Singh said that the major thrust of the PAU is on providing exposure to the University faculty and students in the foreign institutes in different areas of agriculture and allied fields.

Dr H.S. Sehgal, Additional Director of Communication, and Dr Kamal Vatta, Deputy Director (Public Relations), coordinated the visit of the KSU delegation.

In his opening remarks, Dr Floros said, "We hope to work together on many aspects." As the water depletion is being faced in Punjab and Kansas state as well, the two institutes can make joint efforts to check this problem, suggested he. Stating that the KSU is primarily an agricultural varsity and the first Land Grant University of USA, he told the Kansas state produces more than half of the wheat in US in addition to sorghum, sunflower, and other crops. The focus is on wheat cultivation, water conservation and value addition to agriculture, said Dr Floros, while highlighting, "We produce animal as well as grain products and have an expertise in animal agriculture and grain science."

Dr Pierzynski presented an overview of the Agronomy Department of KSU, and said that it provides a positive return on investment for agriculture in Kansas and beyond. It has a strong teaching, research and extension programmes, he added. About the economic impact of wheat breeding, he divulged, "In wheat (since 1977), 87 per cent increase has been due to wheat breeding. The estimated economic benefit of KAES wheat breeding is $89 million/year or $2.6 billion since 1977."

The US delegate, Dr Prasad said that the main focus is on developing conservation and sustainable agricultural practices, studying the impact of climate change, minimizing the soil erosion, and evolving technologies for the small farmers to increase water use efficiency in grain crops.

Giving details of Grain Science and Industry Department of KSU, Dr Alvi said that they seek to address hunger in local and global settings. The research and development focus is on flour milling, and processing and development of a range of products including breakfast cereal, snacks, pasta, textured vegetable protein, pet food, aquatic feed, and industrial products, he added.
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