The annual convocation of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) was held here on Monday as a part of the golden jubilee celebrations.
Chief guest Prof Abhijit Sen, member, planning commission, Government of India, conferred Dr Grucharan Kalkat, former vice-chancellor of PAU and chairman, Punjab State Farmers' Commission, with the degree of doctor of science (honoris causa).
Besides, he bestowed the certificates of appreciation on the former vice-chancellors of the PAU: Dr Khem Singh Gill, Dr Gurcharan Kalkat, Dr Kirpal Singh Aulakh and Dr Manjit Singh Kang. In addition, 392 students were awarded doctorate and master degrees, and 11 students were awarded medals. The students were also awarded merit certificates. The chief guest also awarded cash awards, palques and various prizes to the members of the faculty of the PAU.
Speaking on the occasion, Prof Abhijit Sen said, "PAU is a premiere and a well-known agricultural university of the country. Right from its agri- research to transfer of technology, India is proud of this institution. The university has produced outstanding and exceptional human resources. In its historic year, I congratulate PAU for its glorious service to the farming community." He also congratulated the students who received degrees and merit certificates and exhorted them to contribute to socio-economic development of the country.
About climate change, Prof. Sen disclosed that upto mid-90s, there was no trend of the change of temperature. But since 1997, there has been significant increase in the change of temperature whether minimum or maximum, he said, disclosing that the temperature has gone up by .6-.7 ?C. In view of rising population, the land area and the water available for agriculture will come down in near future and Indian and China will turn into major importers of farm products and natural resources, he observed.
Expressing concern over depleting underground water table in Punjab, he suggested, "For change in cropping pattern, we need to look at livestock and horticulture. In future, we will move into the world of quality, perishability and marketing. Value addition is also essential in agriculture," he stressed.
The number of farms and farmers is not declining, but the agriculture labour force is declining, he noted, saying that the NREGA scheme was meant to improve the livelihood of the landless.
Presenting the convocation report, Dr Baldev Singh Dhillon, vice chancellor, PAU, said that during the current year, 10 crop varieties were released for cultivation in Punjab. The university produced about 65,000 quintals of seed of different varieties, highlighting that the PAU also produces 30,000-disease free sapling of kinnow, 60,000 of poplar and 90,000 other fruit crops. Two mandarin varieties including Daisy Tangerine and W. Murcott are expected to enhance and diversify citrus cultivation.
Dr Dhillon said that the PAU has enrolled about 6,000 farmers as Kisan Doots in various villages for quick dissemination farm technologies through e-mail. He informed that the university inked 11 memoranda of understanding with institutions abroad such as Ohio State University, USA; and Egerton University, Kenya, in addition to University of Zambeze, Mozambique and International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), Mexico. Throwing light on the challenges ahead, Dr Dhillon said that the PAU scientists are striving hard to meet the farm challenges through diversification of rice-wheat cropping system.
Equally important is to enhance the crop productivity in combination with resistance/tolerance to stresses and better nutritional and processing qualities, he added. Congratulating the degree holders and award winning students, he conveyed his best wishes to them.
During the convocation, PhD, MSc, MTech, MBA, MBA (Agri-Business), MCA and MJMC degrees were awarded to 392 students. Besides, 11 students were awarded medals. These include Navpreet Kumar (Sardar Kartar Singh Kahlon Gold Medal 2011-12); Manpreet Jaidka (Dr Gurbaksh Singh Gill Medal 2011-12); Swati Kapoor (Dr K Kirpal Singh Medal 2011-12); Rupinder Pal Singh (Sadar Iqbal Singh Dhillon Medal 2011-12); Ramanpreet Kaur (Dr Sardar Singh Medal 2011-12); Jiban Chandra Nath (Dr Narinder Singh Randhawa Medal 2011-12); Jaskanwal Singh (Dr BR Sharma Medal 2011-12); Hina Malhotra (Dr GS Sidhu Medal 2011-12); Pooja (Shri Puran Anand Adlakha Medal 2011-12); Abhijit Kar (Dr Gurmail Singh Dhaliwal Medal 2011-12); and Jaskirat Kaur Virk (Dr PN Thapar Gold Medal 2012). PAU student Shalini Agnihothri was awarded Dr Sukhdev Singh Prize for Essay and Oration 2011-12.
Apart from this, eight faculty members of PAU were also conferred with different awards. These include Dr A.S. Dhatt, Senior Vegetable Breeder (Hans Raj Pahwa Memorial Award 2010-11), Dr HS Dhaliwal, Senior Horticulturist (Harpal Kaur memorial Award 2011), Dr M.S. Dhaliwal, Senior Vegetable Breeder (Award of Plaque 2010-11); Dr S.S. Kukal, Prof. of Soil Conservation (Award of Merit Certificate 2011-12); Dr J.S. Brar, Senior Seed Production Specialist-cum-Director, Raja Harinder Singh Seed Farm, Faridkot (Best Outstation Scientist Award 2011-12); Dr T.K. Gill, Prof. of Extension Education (Dr M.S. Randhawa Best Book Prize 2009); Dr Surjit S. Gill, Senior Extension Specialist (Dr Satwant Kaur Memorial best Extension Worker Award 2011); and Dr R.K. Dhaliwal, Head of Extension Education Department (PAU Best Teacher Award 2010-11).
Viability of small farms major focus of 12th plan: Prof Sen
Prof Sen said that under the 12th plan, the special thrust will be on viability of small farms, reducing the yield gaps, and meeting the demands of the ever-increasing population. Divulging that in the last five years there has been addition of 40 million tonnes of food grains to the national food grain bowl, Prof.
Sen said that this is a creditable achievement and a matter of pride for PAU as well as Punjab. In the past five years, the rate of global farm production has gone up by 3.5 per cent, he revealed. In 2005-06, the world prices became volatile and it was vital to build up the levels of stocks, he said. Referring to minimum support price (MSP), he emphasized that MSP must give assurance to the farmers that their profits will not become unsustainable.