Monday, April 22, 2013



"There is a wide scope for collaborative research in citrus between the PAU and the University of Florida, USA," said Dr Fred G. Gmitter, Citrus Fruit Breeder, University of Florida, USA, during his interaction with the experts of the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU). Highly-admiring the PAU, he described it as a premiere institution of international repute.

During his ten-day visit to the Punjab, in general, and the PAU, in particular; the US expert held meetings with S. Prakash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab; Dr Baldev Singh Dhillon, PAU Vice-Chancellor; senior officials of the University; citrus fruit growers of the Punjab state, and the University farm experts, undergraduate and post-graduate students. He deliberated on different aspects of citrus cultivation, and agro- industry of Punjab.

Lauding the huge cultivation of kinnow in the Punjab state, Dr Gmitter said that there is a lot of scope for their quality improvement and production enhancement. He pointed out that the state is confronting two big problems in citrus cultivation including that of Phytophthora disease, and decreasing production. Flooded irrigation in the state favours Phytophthora, he observed, while emphasizing that the Punjab farmers must adopt drip irrigation method as water may not be abundant after a few years. Elaborating, Dr Gmitter pointed out that the planting density in the state is less than anywhere else in the world. There is a lot of space around trees and there has to be a high density, he suggested. Observing that the fruits on the top of the tree are of the poorest quality, he stressed on reducing the height of trees. He said that keeping in view the kinnow monoculture in the Punjab state, there is an urgent need to develop early maturing varieties with better juice quality. Suggesting the establishment of a long-term citrus breeding programmes in the state for greater profit, he underlined the need for long-term institutional commitment, dedicated research team and suitable germplasm resources.

Further, stating that the lemon oil is an expensive commodity, Dr Gmitter impressed upon the PAU experts to evolve lemon varieties as the agro-climatic conditions in Punjab match well with one of the best lemon oil producing countries in the world.

Welcoming the US expert, Dr Dhillon said that although-citrus cultivation is quite old in India, yet in the past 50 years, its rootstock has not improved. He told that the present focus is on producing seedless kinnow. Dr Dhillon suggested the formation of a mega project between the PAU and Citrus Research and Education Centre, Lake Alfred, University of Florida, USA, for strengthening the citrus breeding programmes and enhancing the citrus production as well. He appreciated the views of Dr Gmitter and said that they will help the University in necessary reprioritization of the research programmes on citrus.

The Director of Research, Dr S.S. Gosal explained about the citrus varieties, developed by the PAU, and being cultivated in the Punjab state. He also emphasized on the adoption of biotechnology for strengthening the research programmes on citrus.

Earlier, Dr H.S. Sehgal, Additional Director of Communication, welcomed the dignitaries, and the PAU faculty members. Giving a brief detail of the visit of the US expert, he told that Dr Gmitter delivered lectures; imparted hands-on-training on different aspects of citrus cultivation; and visited various departments, laboratories, and museums at PAU.

Dr D.S. Brar, Adjunct Professor at PAU School of Agricultural Biotechnology (SAB) and former Head of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology Division, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippines; stressed on making the provision of citrus germpalsm resources for the PAU.

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