In an effort to help Punjab farmers diversify to crops other than wheat and paddy, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has asked US-based Monsanto hybrid seed company to establish its research centre to undertake extensive research for the production of high-yield hybrid seeds of maize in the state.
A high-level delegation of the company, led by the vice-president, Global Vegetables and Asia Commercial, Consuelo E Madere, called on the CM last week.
During the deliberations, Monsanto's CEO (India region) D Narain told the CM that the company had developed heat-tolerant hybrid maize varieties for the northern region, especially Punjab, adding that Monsanto had focused on developing maize varieties for the kharif season in order to provide a viable alternative to paddy in the state. He also assured Badal that the company would also make all-out efforts to develop high-yield soyabean seeds in its endeavour to boost diversification of agriculture.
Assuring all possible assistance to the company, the CM directed the vice-chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, to provide technical data and logistic support to enable them to produce quality hybrid seeds best suited to climatic conditions of the state.
Badal also constituted a high-level committee headed by Punjab Farmers Commission chairman Dr GS Kalkat, financial commissioner (development) GS Sandhu, agriculture advisor Dr Balwinder Singh Sidhu and director, agriculture, Dr Mangal Singh Sandhu as members to work out modalities for developing high-yield varieties and maize seeds in tandem with Monsanto.
The committee has also been mandated to suggest a self-sustaining marketing mechanism to ensure hassle-free marketing of maize to farmers. The CM also asked the Monsanto team to provide high-yield varieties of soyabean seed to give a fillip to crop diversification.
Notably, the state government has planned to reduce the area under paddy from 28 to 16 lakh hectares in a phased manner over a period of six years. Initially, it is purposed to bring nearly 4 acres of this area under maize.