On PAU Visit, CM Calls for Water and Soil Conservation
On his visit to the Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, the Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh reviewed the research, extension and teaching activities and called for conservation of the declining water table. “All agricultural research should be focused on conservation of water”, said the CM. PAU, Vice Chancellor, Dr Baldev Singh Dhillon while welcoming the Chief Minister and his team, shed light on the research, extension and teaching mandate of PAU and described the conservation of water resources and climate change as the major challenges facing Punjab agriculture. Keeping in mind the water crisis of the state, Dr Dhillon briefed about PAU’s early maturing paddy varieties that require less water and give higher yield; leaving behind stubble that can be easily managed.
He also enumerated the University’s initiative in conserving soil health through development of cropping system based fertilizer application and the record application of three cultures of biofertilizers for 17 different crops in 65,000 acres in the year 2018. While sharing figures, Dr Dhillon banished myths surrounding crop yield and soil health, and elaborated how integrated nutrient management practices had led to decreased use of urea and insecticides in the last few years. He further informed that in accordance with the changing agricultural scenario, new research and training programmes have led to the development of School of Organic Farming, College of Horticulture, Water Technology Center, Food Industry Business Incubation Center etc.
“It was through integrated insect- pest and disease management that PAU played a major role in tackling the white fly menace,” Dr Dhillon emphasized. He also outlined the University’s role in successful in situ and ex situ stubble management through development of farm machinery like Lucky Seed Drill, PAU Super SMS, Mulcher etc. “PAU’s historic Kisan Melas with the underlying theme to stop stubble burning, motivated thousands of farmers to adopt techniques for stubble management,” he said.
“Development of vegetable and fruit varieties with high nutritional content and processing ability like PAU Kinnow1, Tomato Pb Ratta, Carrot Pb Black Beauty, Magaz kaddu, Pb Kheera 1, CMS Baby Corn etc are worth mentioning,” the VC further detailed. “Trainings to prepare processed food products like juices, red wine, chips, fruit vinegar, and multi grain atta are given to interested farmers so that they can get maximum benefit out of the produce. Post harvest handling of produce including drying, storage and washing, polishing and packing along with market guidance is also being given to farmers. ” said Dr Dhillon. He shared that the success of red wine technology has motivated PAU to set up its own winery.
The VC informed that the University is also outlining areas in the state suitable for cultivation of horticultural and vegetable crops like celery, sesame, groundnut, flax seeds, melon, ginger, carrot, peas, ornamental plants and plant species for agro forestry. “Punjab proudly sits at the top most position in the country in mushroom cultivation and bee keeping; providing numerous trainings for the same from time to time,” pointed Dr Dhillon.
On the extension side, the Vice Chancellor elaborated that PAU is strongly connected with the farmers of the State and its Kisan Melas attracting lakhs of farmers across Punjab are a testimony to their faith in the University’s technologies and recommendations. Additionally, the University’s various extension programmes like farm fairs, field days, trainings and workshops carried out by its 18 Krishi Vigyan Kendras and Farm Advisory Service Schemes equip farmers/farm women with the latest developments in the agricultural sector. Our digital weekly newspaper, Kheti Sandesh, reaching out to more than 4 lakh farmers in the state and the creation of the PAU Kisan App have further strengthened PAU’s link with the farmers. Dr Dhillon said that under the table guidance of the Punjab Government, PAU has attained momentous feats, among which ‘Sardar Patel Award’ and ‘Institution of Excellence’ are worth mentioning. He also dwelled on the current appointment policy that hires scientists on basic pay which has led to the best brains walking away from government jobs.
Chairman Punjab State Farmers Commission Ajay Vir Jakhar suggested that Punjab should be developed as a potato seed hub as it was ecologically benign to produce high quality potato seeds.
Dr Dhillon informed that the institution had already taken up with the Government of India for getting Geographical Indication (GI) for potato seeds in Doaba region. The Chief Minister said that an appropriate legislation should be brought to regulate the quality of certified seeds of potato and other vegetable crops. He further impressed on the need to focus on frontier technologies, viz. bio- technology, nano-technology, big data analysis and climate change, to improve the sustainability of state agriculture in future.
The CM assured that paucity of funds would not be allowed to hinder research and development initiatives.
Sh K.S. Pannu, IAS, Secretary Agriculture called for a special task force for marketing and certification. He also revealed that the government has compiled a list of farmers who burnt paddy in the last season. Field visits for them would be organized to those villages that shunned stubble burning, said Sardar Pannu. Dr Balwinder Singh Sidhu, Commissioner, Agriculture voiced his concern for subsidies reaching the right farmers.
Discussions were also held on prospects of replacing paddy with maize, onions as alternative crops.
Prominent amongst others who were present on the occasion were MP Ludhiana Ravneet Singh Bittu, Shri Balbir Singh, Hon’ble Minister for Animal Husbandry, MLA Surinder Dawar, Principal Secretary to CM Tejveer Singh, Secretary Agriculture Kahan Singh Pannu, Commissioner Agriculture Dr Balwinder Singh Sidhu, VC GADVASU Dr AS Nanda, Deputy Commissioner Pradeep Kumar Agrawal besides senior faculty members of PAU and GADVASU.