February 18, 2012 admin


LUDHIANA, FEBRUARY 18:  A seminar on ‘Agricultural Economy of Punjab: Science-Policy Interface’ was organized at Farmers Service Centre Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), today.  The former Vice Chancellor of PAU, Dr. K.S.Aulakh chaired the seminar.
            In his address, PAU Vice Chancellor, Dr. Baldev Singh Dhillon, delved on ‘Punjab agriculture: Issues and Challenges’.  He said that PAU played a pivotal role in the ushering in an era of green revolution in the country.  He said that the earlier varieties of wheat and paddy responded well to fertilizers and that in an attempt to harvest more, farmers used excessive nitrogen and other inputs.  Nobody force them to increase cropping intensity from 130 % in 1966-67 to nearly 190 % now.  The focus was to produce more for the burgeoning population.  Punjab practiced intensive agriculture to meet the national food security needs of its growing population, remarked Dr. Dhillon.  Currently, there is an over use of pesticides, electricity, tractors, water and other inputs.
            Dr. Dhillon said that PAU gave a clarion call to save water as it published bulletin on the prudent use of water as early as 1990 and refined technologies for efficient use and conservation of natural resources.  He said that creating awareness among farmers to use the available technologies is being given the highest priority.  PAU has made greater contribution than any other institution, toward national development, said Dr. Dhillon adding that in 1960’s there was no seed industry but now private industry is meeting 90 % needs of the state.  Highlighting important issues in the face of contemporary agriculture, Dr. Dhillon discussed ways and means to enhance productivity, diversification and agro-processing.  "The gap between potential and realized yields in the irrigated zone is narrow and new technologies are needed to be developed", he said.  He emphasized that for research and development more funding is required.  Instead of giving electricity free to the farmers, transferable input coupons be given to farmers to buy any input they need, he suggested.
            Dr. S.S.Gosal, Director of Research highlighted the contribution of PAU in research, teaching and technology transfer.   He elaborated that the technologies generated a remarkable impact in the state.  He told that the research is a continuous process which is reprioritized keeping in view the farmers emerging requirements.  The current thrust is on developing resource conservation technologies and to make technology serve the needs of small farmers.
            Dr. S.S.Gill, Director General, CRRID deliberated on ‘Expenditure and resources mobilization for the revival of Punjab economy’.  "With proper management and governance, Haryana and Gujarat have left us behind", he said adding that the per capita income which was nearly double in 1979-80 than the national average is diminishing.  He emphasized on proper resources management.  Dr. Gill expressed concern that currently the state has a debt burden of Rs. 80000 crore. The state which in 1979-80 spent nearly 70% on development is now spending just 28% on it, observed Dr. Gill.  Discussing about the financial health, he said that Punjab chronically in deficit.  Dr. Gill said that knowledge economy is the driver for prosperity.  Therefore, like advanced countries, which allocate 4-5% of the budget for R & D, the state should enhance its R & D investment from 0.3% which is very meager.  PAU being the power house of the research and development in the state, needs to be funded adequately, said Dr. Gill.  He further said that to put state economy on sound footing, proper tax collection should be ensured.  He also suggested diversification of taxation, strengthening of state planning board, supporting natural resource management programmes, etc.  He favoured that trade be promoted with the neighboring countries.
            Dr. Karam Singh, Consultant, Punjab State Farmers Commission discussed the role of institutions in the development of the state.  He said that water was grossly mismanaged and added that the NASA warning on water depletion has highlighted severe shortage of portable water, reduction in agricultural productivity, conflict and sufferings which will surely accompany the shortage.  He suggested the need for high level agricultural development coordination authority and to help small farmers with education and training.
            Dr. R.S.Ghuman, Chair Professor at Punjabi University, Patiala discussed globalization and agricultural development.  He said that globalization is a buzz word and that the WTO (April, 1995) also affects agrarian economy through multi-lateral negotiations.  He said that cereals, oilseeds, fruits and vegetables are important components of food basket of Punjab and that quality, processing and cost-effectiveness are important.  He also suggested the enhancement of public investment in agriculture to sustain the growth rate.  Patenting of seeds and technology developed locally is also important, he added.  "If Punjab is to take advantage of globalized era in agriculture, we must focus on quality, grading and processing", he said adding that the focus should be shifted from low value to high value crops.
            Dr. Sukhpal Singh, Professor, Institute of Economic Growth delved on agriculture marketing reforms and added that Punjab has to be viewed in the context of national economy.  Dr. M.S.Sidhu, Head, Department of Economics and Sociology deliberated on agricultural subsidies and public expenditure in Punjab.
            Dr. I.J.S.Bansal, President of Punjab Academy of Sciences, Patiala presented an overview of the academy and informed that it undertakes various activities for the promotion of science, encouraging young scientists and students and to highlight technological requirements of Punjab.
            Dr. Krishan Jindal, Chief General Manager, NABARD highlighted the schemes and policies of NABARD.  The areas of support being water management, rural connectivity, extension education for animal husbandry, rural education and rural health programmes.  Dr. Jindal said that NABARD and PAU are running several collaborative projects in these areas.
            The Chairperson, Dr. K.S.Aulakh said that the science-policy interface meetings should be regularly held to debate issues concerning agricultural economy of Punjab.  He said that education and health were the most important areas which should be focused.  The technology should help small farmers to enhance their profitability levels.  He complimented the organizers for the interface meeting in the Golden Jubilee Year of the University.
            Earlier, the Dean, College of Basic Sciences and Humanities, Dr. R.S. Sidhu while welcoming the Chairman and other participants said that Punjab farming is facing challenges on policy, infrastructure and socio-economic fronts.  He highlighted the objective of the seminar and added that the interface between scientists and policy makers will help identify agenda for technological solutions of the challenges. 

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