The proposal of setting up of a 'centre of excellence for crop diversification' at Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) to give the much-needed momentum to the agriculture diversification in the state has been approved by chief minister Parkash Singh Badal at a high-level meeting held in Chandigarh on May 6.
The proposal was discussed at the meeting and approved by the chief minister in principle for inclusion in the document to be submitted to the central government for consideration.
Badal had recently held a series of meetings with experts and progressive farmers to develop a plan for agriculture diversification in the state. One of the major proposals emerged out of the meetings was setting up of a 'centre of excellence for crop diversification in Punjab' at Punjab Agriculture University (PAU).
In this context, PAU has also submitted a comprehensive proposal document to the Punjab government, wherein it stressed that new technologies that could help enhancing the production per unit of land and water without adversely affecting agro-ecology were needed.
The document with a budget layout of Rs198 crore (for period of five years) has given strong focus on: crop improvement, biotechnology, horticulture, agro-forestry, soil and water conservation, farm mechanisation, processing and value addition; quality seed and planting material production; market intelligence, human resource development and transfer of technology.
The challenge of climate change, more specifically climate extremities, has also been focused for developing adaption technologies and mitigation strategies.
Expressing his gratitude to the Punjab government for accepting the proposal, PAU vice-chancellor Baldev Singh Dhillon said the efforts would lead to crop diversification and popularisation of resource conservation technologies that would ensure sustainability of the agriculture for the future generations.
The funds available for this center would also help restore scientific human resource required for giving push to diversification of agriculture programme, he added.
SS Gosal, director of research, said the crop improvement for maize, cotton, mungbean, arhar, soybean, forages, basmati rice, agro-forestry, would prove useful for the sustainability of the agriculture in Punjab.
He added that the biotechnology combined with traditional breeding would play a vital role in quick development of varieties. Citrus, the main fruit crop of Punjab, would also be diversified for broadening fruit availability window, said Gosal, adding that tissue culture techniques for mass production of citrus, poplar, sugarcane and potato would also be receiving focus. High-tech fruit nursery would be established at different places in the state, he said.
The above research agenda will lead to enhanced development in the state by evolving and popularisation of improved varieties possessing high yield, better quality, tolerance to major pests and diseases and other stresses, the conservation of natural resources, reduced use of agro-chemicals, promoting mechanised farming, quality seed, and mass production of planting material, said a press note issued by PAU.