Tuesday, July 23, 2013



A national level brain storming session on "Strategic Management of Yellow Rust and Karnal Bunt of Wheat in North-Western Plains and Hill Zone of India" was organized at the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) today. Dr J.S. Sandhu, Agriculture Commissioner, Government of India; Dr G.K. Choudhary, Director, Directorate of Wheat Development, Ghaziabad; Dr Indu Sharma, Director, Directorate of Wheat Research, Karnal and PAU alumna; and Dr Nirankar Singh, Joint Director of Agriculture, Punjab; attended the session.Wheat scientists from the state agricultural universities of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, and Uttarakhand also participated in the session.

In his inaugural remarks, the Chief Guest, Dr Baldev Singh Dhillon, Vice-Chancellor, PAU, expressed concern over the wheat diseases including yellow rust and karnal bunt. "In addition to proper seed treatment, timely application of fungicides and biotechnological tools is vital for the management of wheat diseases," he emphasized. Highlighting that wheat is an important staple food crop of the country; he stressed on controlling the sale of unrecommended crop varieties including that of wheat in the market. The farm scientists must create awareness and advise the farmers to avoid sowing of unrecommended varieties of different crops, he suggested. Observing that due to climatic variations, the farm problems are going to rise; he underlined the need to undertake study on climate change.

Dr J.S. Sandhu, PAU alumnus; divulged that India produced a record of 259.32 million tonnes of food grains during 2011-12. However, the food grain production, during 2012-13, touched nearly 255 million tonnes, he told, while emphasizing on strengthening the wheat research and on working hard to improve the wheat varieties. About food security bill, Dr Sandhu revealed that it aims at covering 67 per cent of India's population. "Under the 12th Five Year Plan, we have proposed a target of additional 25 million tonnes of food grain production," he said, while highlighting that nutritional security is going to be the next focus area of the Government of India. Dr Sandhu said that the crop diversification in the Punjab state is the need of hour.

Dr G.K. Choudhary pointed out that the north-western (NW) plains are experiencing the occurrence of yellow rust in wheat. The NW Plain Zone is the major contributor of the wheat to the food basket of India, he said. Although there are plenty of wheat varieties available, yet more emphasis should be laid on developing the wheat varieties resistant to both the rusts i.e. yellow and brown, he added. This session will useful in formulating strategies for countering the wheat diseases in other Indian states also, he stated.

Earlier, Dr S.S. Gosal, Director of Research, PAU, welcomed the dignitaries and the participating wheat scientists. Remarking that wheat is a vital crop of the country, he disclosed that it is grown in an area of 3.5 million hectares in India. He voiced concern over the two serious diseases of wheat including yellow and brown rusts, and said that both the rusts are causing huge losses to the yield. Wind direction, temperature and humidity are some of factors which the determine the spread of this disease, he told, while saying that karnal bunt disease of wheat is also becoming important. To encourage wheat export, we need to take care of its disease management and work out strategies to address the biotic and abiotic stresses.

Dr M.S. Gill, Director of Extension Education, while proposing the vote of thanks, hoped that the session will come out with fruitful strategies for the control of wheat diseases.

Dr P.P. Singh, Head, Department of Plant Pathology, PAU, and Co-Coordinator of the programme, anchored the proceedings of the brain storming session.

Eminent wheat scientists, working actively on yellow rust and karnal bunt diseases of wheat, participated in the technical session. On this occasion, the dignitaries released a research journal "Plant Disease Research (vol. 28)," jointly brought out by the PAU Department of Plant Pathology and the Indian Society of Plant Pathologists.

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