Scientists and researchers from across the country have gathered in the district for a three-day workshop to deliberate on developing maize, the third-most important cereal for Indians.
The 58th Annual Workshop of All India Coordinated Research Project on Maize (AICRPM) began at the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) on Saturday. It has been jointly organised by Crop Improvement Society of India and the Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, PAU.
Dr Gurbachan Singh, chairman of the Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board, New Delhi, was the chief guest while Dr J.S. Sandhu, deputy director general (crop sciences), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) was the guest of honour.
PAU's vice-chancellor Dr Baldev Singh Dhillon presided over the inaugural session.
Dr Gurbachan Singh stressed the need to promote cultivation of maize, saying the crop has great scope in terms of marketing, processing and value addition.
"According to contemporary farm scenario, many farmers are cultivating small land holdings," he said, while calling upon farmers to adopt the integrated farming approach.
"With declining profits and increasing cultivation costs, maize can play a vital role in sustaining productivity…we need to produce more from less area and with less water," Dr Singh added.
Dr Sandhu said maize, "a unique crop" has multiple uses in terms of feed, food, fodder and fuel. "The productivity of maize is highest in Tamil Nadu with 5.4 tonnes, Punjab - 4 tonnes, Haryana - 3 tonnes, Uttar Pradesh -1.8 tonnes," he said.
Dr Dhillon, while highlighting the achievements of PAU maize section, underlined the need for change in stereotype research and improvement in quality of testing.
Referring to Prime Minister, Narendra Modi's "Make in India" campaign, Dr Khera called upon the maize scientists to develop their own varieties and have their own public-private partnership.
He said major emphasis should be laid on maize and cotton as both the crops are "wide spacing".
Dr IS Solanki, assistant director general (food and fodder crops), ICAR, said maize is the third most important cereal crop of the country. "Therefore, it should be popularised among farmers, industry and consumers," he said, adding that more thrust is being laid on single cross hybrids as they have shown resistance to various insect-pests and tolerance to drought. Dr Solanki also stressed setting-up of industries in the areas where maize is grown in volumes.
Other guests included Dr Amarjit Singh Khera, former vice-chancellor, PAU, Dr SK Sharma, chairman, Research Advisory Committee, Indian Institute of Maize Research (IIMR), New Delhi, and Dr OP Yadav, director, IIMR.