Dr Gurmeet Singh Buttar, head of the agronomy department at Punjab Agricultural University, has received the coveted fellowship award from India's premier agricultural development body, the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS), based in New Delhi. The award was conferred upon him by S Ayyappan, director general of the Indian Council of Agriculture and Research (ICAR), for his contribution in saving and using natural resources like water and soil in an efficient manner.
NAAS, which encourages cutting edge research in of agricultural sciences, accords recognition to scientists who have made significant contributions in the field.
According to PAU records, Buttar, 50, is the first agronomist of the department to be bestowed with this honour. Moreover, since 2005 no PAU scientist has been honored this fellowship.
Buttar is an alumnus of PAU where he earned his BSc degree in agriculture followed by a masters and doctorate in agronomy. "I come from a family of agriculturalists and still remember that my parents introduced me to farming at the age of 12, which helped me to develop a keen interest in this field since childhood", he shared. He observed young people today are less interested in growing crops, due to which most farm activities in Punjab have been taken up by migrant labour from states like UP, Bihar and MP.
When asked about the challenges the state faces in agricultural development, Buttar said the biggest was the misuse of natural resources. "Excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides harms soil health and very few farmers pay heed to this advice despite knowing this fact. Secondly, water in most cases is either excessively used or is polluted by industrial effluents," he said.
Buttar, whose articles have been published in nearly 300 national and international journals, says he is currently involved in developing 40 new varieties of various fruits, vegetables and crops.