Baldev Singh Dhillon
Vice Chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana
Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), set up in 1962, has its roots in Punjab Agricultural College and Research Institute, Lyallpur (now Faisalabad in Pakistan) that was established in 1906. After the partition of the country, the classes of the students who migrated from Lyallpur were started in November 1947 at Khalsa College Amritsar, shifted to Malwa Khalsa High School, Ludhiana in March 1949 and then to its present site in 1957. The University initially had campuses at Ludhiana, Hisar and Palampur. The University was bifurcated by an Act of Parliament on February 2, 1970 to establish PAU at Ludhiana and Haryana Agricultural University at Hisar. In July 1970, the Himachal Pradesh Agricultural University was formed at Palampur. PAU Ludhiana had five constituent colleges namely, College of Agriculture, College of Agricultural Engineering, College of Basic Sciences & Humanities, College of Veterinary Sciences and College of Home Science. In 2006, the College of Veterinary Sciences of PAU was upgraded to Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Science University and PAU has now four constituent colleges.
PAU has endeavored to achieve its goal through high standards of academic performance, research and transfer of technology. In collaboration with the state development departments, accompanied by pro-farmers policies of the state government and hardworking farmers, PAU played a pivotal role in ushering in an era of Green Revolution, making India self-sufficient in food grain production and the state of Punjab as granary of the country.The country has now exportable surplus of certain commodities.
PAU was setup at a time when the country was facing an acute shortage of food grains and was heavily dependent on food imports. Keeping in view the dire need to increase productivity and production, PAU made strenuous efforts to develop high yielding, input responsive crop varieties (Table 1) and complimentary production-protection technologies, such as depth of sowing, irrigation schedules and weed management. The adoption of improved varieties and their production-protection technologies resulted in spectacular increase in productivity of rice and wheat and consequently enhanced farm income. The productivity of wheat increased from 1.2 t/ha in 1960-61 to 4.7 t/ha in 2010-11 (3.92 times) and rice from 1.1 t/ha to 4.0 (3.63 times). With just 1.53% geographical area of the country, Punjab now produces about 22% wheat and 12% rice of the country. It has been contributing 45-70 % of wheat and 35-40 % of rice to national buffer stock of food grains. Across all field crops, vegetables, fruits, fodders and ornamentals, PAU has so far released ~700 varieties / hybrids of which 115 have been released at national level. In the case of wheat, the most important crop of Punjab, PAU has released 54 varieties of which 35 have been released at the national level. The impact of our technology is evident from the fact that wheat variety PBW 343, at one time occupied ~ 90% of the area in the state and about 70% in Indo Gangetic Plains. It benefitted the farmers to the tune of Rs. 26,000 crore per year.
PAU is the leading national center for research on hybrid breeding. It developed hybrids of 10 crops (pearlmillet, maize, cotton, sunflower, gobhi sarson, bajra-napier, muskmelon, chilli, tomato and brinjal) and is credited with development of the first grain pearlmillet hybrid (HB 1) in the world and first single-cross maize hybrid (Paras), and first hybrid of Gobhi sarson (PGSH 51) in India. Other achievements in hybrid breeding include the development of cytoplasmic-genic male sterility in Brassica.
Table 1: Some important varieties/ hybrids developed by PAU
Crop Varieties and year of release
Wheat : C 306 (1965), PV 18 (1966), Kalyan Sona (1967), WL 711 (1976), PBW 343 (1995), PBW 550 (2007), PBW 621 (2010)
Rice : IR 8 (1968), Jaya (1971), PR 106 (1976), PR 116 (2000), PR 118(2003)
Maize : Vijay (1967), Sartaj (1987), Paras (1995), Buland (2003), PMH 1 (2005)
Cotton : G 27 (1969), LH 900 (1985), F 505 (1986), F 1378 (1997), LH 2076(2008)
Sugarcane : CoJ 64 (1975), CoJ 83(1992) CoJ 85 (2000) CoJ 88 (2002)
Summer moong : G 65 (1965), SML 668 (2002), SML 832 (2010)
Ghobi sarson : GSL 1 (1985), Canola type GSC 6 (2007)
Tomato : Punjab Chhuhara (1975), TH 1 (2003),Punjab Varkha Bahar-1 and Punjab Varkha Bahar-2 (2009)
Chilli : CH 1 (1992)
Muskmelon : Punjab Hybrid (1981)
Pea : Punjab 89 (2009)
PAU took a lead in developing technology for crop cultivation in cropping system mode. For example, fertilizer dosage and application schedules were worked out for various cropping sequences. Further, PAU was also on the forefront in formulating the package of practices for specific agro-ecologies such as irrigated and rainfed crop cultivation.
PAU developed technologies for the reclamation of salt affected soils (1970) the application of which led to reclamation of ~ 7 lakh ha area in the state. In order to pump the shallow floating good quality water over the saline ground water in water logging areas of South-West Punjab, installation of multiple skimming well was recommended (1983). Technology was also developed by PAU for use of saline ground water by mixing with canal water in the region. Further, intensive agriculture led to the appearance of micro-nutrient deficiency in crops in different pockets of the state. To alleviate it, PAU developed the required technologies.
As the consequence of intensive agriculture practiced to feed the nation started their manifestation, PAU reoriented its research priorities and strengthened integrated water management (IWM), integrated nutrient management (INM), and integrated pest management (IPM). The technologies thus developed include: Laser land leveler, tensiometer, drip/sprinkler irrigation, bed planting, leaf color chart, green manuring, zero-till drill, bio-control of pests and pathogens, etc. Again taking the example of wheat, about 7 lakh ha (2010-11) is under zero/minimum tillage which resulted in saving the national exchequer to the tune of Rs. 282 crore. The impact of IPM technologies deserves a special mention. Their adoption curtailed the consumption of pesticides in Punjab from 7200 tons (technical grade) in 1995-96 to 5600 t in 2010-11.
PAU has developed and introduced a number of sowing, spraying, harvesting, threshing, cleaning, processing machines for different crops. Thereby, it catalyzed the emergence of Punjab as a trend setter for development and commercialization of farm machinery and as the hub for farm machinery manufacturing.
PAU has one of the best seed-production and distribution programs among agricultural institutes in the country. Currently, it produces around 57,500 q raw seed of different crops. To cover as large number of farmers as possible, the seeds of new varieties, is distributed in 1-2 kg minikits. In the case of fruits 1.25 lakh nursery plants of different fruits grown in the state are distributed to the growers. To cater to the needs of growers and nurseries in Punjab, screen houses have been constructed for mass production of kinnow plants, the most important fruit in the state. PAU also supplies spawn to mushroom growers and the master spawn to the State Department of Horticulture.
PAU is the pioneer cattle improvement through cross breeding using Holstein–Friesian as the improver breed. In Murrah buffalo, large scale progeny testing was undertaken. In 2006, PAU had elite herds of crossbred cattle and buffalo with milk production potential of 10,000 and 4,600 litres per lactation (305 days), respectively. A large number of buffalo bulls/ bull cows and semen of exotic breeds were supplied to dairy farmers and dairy development agencies in the state. Research on poultry breeding led to the development of a new strain of egg type chicken ‘White Leghorn- Sutlej Layer’ and broiler IBL-80. PAU also developed multi-nutrient products like Uromin lick, Uromol / Uroban (urea-molasses-bran mixture) and Total Mixed Ration for dairy animals.
PAU has landmark achievement in other allied fields too. It is pioneer in successful introduction and establishment of Italian honey bee (Apis mellifera) in India (1962 to 1964) and developing the bee management technologies. As a result, Punjab produces about 14,000 t of apiary honey which is 37% of that produced in India. Further, the University has developed high yielding new varieties and technologies for year round mushroom cultivation. Punjab produces about 50,000 tons (~ 50% of the national production).
Like development of technologies meant for adoption by farmers, PAU has made outstanding contributions in basic research. Some examples are: development of new breeding methods, tissue culture techniques, carbon related dynamics of soil microbial activity in rice-wheat system, techniques to screen germplasm against biotic and abiotic stresses, precision analysis of pesticide residue, etc. Further, PAU has now active program on biotechnological interventions in crop improvement and wheat genome sequencing. Our scientists have published their work in almost all reputed journals in the world. Based on the publications, PAU is placed in top rank among agricultural Universities.
In addition, our technologies have greatly impacted agriculture in other states/countries having similar agro-ecologies. Some of our products have even been made use of across borders. For example, the variety WL 711 of wheat was released for general cultivation in Pakistan, PR 106 of rice in Venezuela and Vijay of maize in Pakistan (under its original name J 1 and in Nepal as Rampur Yellow). Further, our varieties and genetic stocks have been extensively used by CGIAR Institutes in their breeding programs.
PAU has expanded its educational programs over the period of time. At present, we offer 12 Undergraduate, 43 Masters and 27 Doctorate degrees and 8 diplomas. The University successfully introduced 6-year B.Sc (Agri. (Hons) program (2008-09) with a view to give impetus to the enrollment of rural students. PAU is a preferred education destination for foreign students from several countries such as Nepal, Vietnam, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Liberia, Iran, etc. It is a matter of pride for PAU that it has produced several eminent scientists, educationists, administrators, sportspersons (Olympic Captains) and litterateurs par excellence. Many have been decorated with coveted professional recognitions nationally and internationally including prestigious civilian awards such as Padma Bhushan, Padma Shri, World Food Prize, Wolf Prize, Japan Prize, Shanti Swarup Bjhatnagar Award, Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Memorial Prize, Om Parkash Bhasin Award, ICAR Team Award for Multi-Disciplinary Research, Hari Om Ashram Trust Award for Agricultural Research, National Research Development Council Invention Award, Sahitya Academy Award, Vir Chakra, etc. Further many PAU alumni are fellows of prestigious international and national academies/professional societies. It may be added that six of our alumni are currently serving as Vice Chancellors in the country.
PAU in collaboration with state development departments has developed an exemplary research-extension-farmer linkage. It organizes kisan melas, trainings, exhibitions, demonstrations, adaptive trials, field days, and other extension education activities. We are pioneer in some of these such as organization of kisan melas, and establishment of Farmers Service Centre and Plant Clinic. The concept of Farmers Service Centre (1993), was adopted at the national level as Agriculture Technology Information Centre.
PAU is the first agricultural university in the country to have started organizing kisan melas in 1967 and expanded this activity over time. The kisan melas are now regularly held twice a year, before the sowing of Rabi and Kharif crops, at Ludhiana and at five regional stations in different agro-climatic zones of the state ( Gurdaspur, Ballowal Saunkhri in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar, Bathinda, Faridkot and Rauni near Patiala). In the kisan melas, technology displays, field demonstrations, farmer-scientist interactive sessions, crop produce competitions, sale of seeds, plant material and agro-industrial exhibitions are arranged. The farmers get educated about latest technologies and share their farm problems with the experts. Our kisan melas attract around 0.5 million farmers every year.
PAU regularly disseminates the latest scientific knowledge through need-based farm literature including farm magazines Changi Kheti, Progressive Farming, Package of Practices for Rabi and Kharif crops, fruits and vegetables and technical bulletins on different crops. PAU farm literature has become very popular and has developed scientific temper among the farming community. There has been an ever increasing demand for it. Sale of PAU farm literature has crossed over Rs one crore in 2010-11. Our scientists also regularly contribute articles to newspapers, magazines and periodicals, books, chapters in books, teaching manuals, bulletins, etc.
PAU conferred with honors
PAU has won many honors and awards. The most coveted ones are:
· First Best State Agricultural University Award in 1995, by the ICAR in recognition of its outstanding contribution toward food security of the nation.
· First University in the country to receive a Special Grant as high as Rs 100 Crore by the central government for basic and strategic research in agriculture.
Further, the Punjab State has received awards such National Productivity Award, on number of occasions, as a result of enhanced agricultural production by disseminating technologies developed by PAU.
PAU celebrates its Golden Jubilee
Fifty years have been a fruitful journey and we plan to celebrate the occasion with full zeal and spirit. The plan includes organization of Golden Jubilee convocation, symposia, lectures by eminent experts, farmers and industry conventions and kisan melas.
Further we are working on various publications including a ‘Compendium of achievements’, ‘Vision-2030’ and ‘Green revolution and thereafter’. The history of PAU being so rich, I could present above an extremely compact account of it. We plan to continue with a detailed treatment in the ensuing issues of Changi Kheti/Progressive Farming. In these articles my colleagues will also presents new strategies and plans. On the whole, PAU is committed to play a pro-active role in agricultural education, research and technology transfer. To carry on the tradition of being the front runner my message to my colleagues is to serve the society with devotion, dedication, discipline and humility, in the true spirit of ‘Service before self’.
On this auspicious occasion, I have the honor to congratulate the faculty, employees, former colleagues, students and farmers who enabled PAU to reach the pinnacle of glory. I salute you all, particularly my predecessors, who nurtured the University during the Green Revolution era.