Thursday, August 1, 2013



The Department of Economics and Sociology of the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) organized a one-day stakeholders' workshop on United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) funded project "Capacity Building in National Planning for Food Security." Eminent scientists from across the region, and the University senior officials, heads and faculty of various departments participated in the workshop. Special lectures on the theme "Issues of Agricultural Development" were also delivered.

Presiding over the workshop, Dr S.S. Gosal, Director of Research, highlighted the remarkable contributions of the PAU to the farm development. "It is the only University which has the credit of developing/recommending more than 700 crop varieties/hybrids," he said. Presently, due to intensive agriculture i.e. rice-wheat cropping system, the Punjab state is confronting the problem of agri- sustainability, he pointed out. Various issues such as environmental pollution, climate change, micro and macro-nutrient deficiencies in crops, and declining natural resources such as water and soil, need to be addressed immediately.

Prof. S.S. Gill, Director General, Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development, Chandigarh, said that food security and fuel security (power) are the two vital elements for the country. Referring to the distress in agriculture, he said that the suicides, in case of small and marginal farmers, are happening because the expenditure exceeds earning. In view of the existing production system which seems to be unviable for the small farmers, cooperative farming is the only answer to their problems, observed Prof. Gill, adding that the Japan model needs to be studied for this purpose. "According to the PAU study carried out by the Department of Economics and Sociology, there is a decline in the number of cultivators, he told. This kind of distress needs to be rectified, he emphasized. Referring to the 12th Five Year Plan, he said that although the share of agriculture in nation's income has declined by 14 per cent, yet the farm sector still employs 53 per cent of workforce.

Dr M.S. Gill, Director of Extension Education, PAU, said that the intensive production system has lead to ecological imbalances. Disclosing that the per capita availability of water which was 31,000 cubic meter in 1975 reduced to 1.9000 cubic meter in 2000, he said that it is projected to come down to 1.4000 cubic meter by 2025, which may declare India as a water stressed country. An integrated farming system should be adopted for income enhancement and for generating additional employment, he stressed.

Dr R.S. Sidhu, Dean, College of Basic Sciences and Humanities, spoke on "Groundwater in Punjab: Depletion and Sustainability." The factors responsible for groundwater depletion are cropping intensity, electricity operated pumps, and vast area under rice, he said, adding that growing power subsidy and unregulated water access have also added to the problems. Informing that in Central Punjab, 96 per cent of 78 blocks are over-exploited, he called upon the experts to pay attention to this issue.

Earlier, Dr M.S. Sidhu, Head, Department of Economics and Sociology, welcomed the dignitaries and the participants. Highlighting the role of Punjab in making the country food secure, he said that an additional storage capacity of 15 million tonnes will be built in the country for the safe food grains storage.

Dr Kamal Vatta, Principal Investigator of the project "Capacity Building in National Planning for Food Security," proposed the vote of thanks.

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