7 January 2021, Punjab, IN: “The Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) is focusing on crop diversification, value addition and nutrition, and entrepreneurship development,” said Dr Baldev Singh Dhillon, Vice-Chancellor, while delivering his inaugural address during the “Research and Extension Specialists’ Virtual Workshop for Horticultural Crops” organized at PAU today. Joint Directors and officials from the State Department of Horticulture; district extension specialists; Deputy/Associate Directors from Krishi Vigyan Kendras; senior officials and faculty from PAU participated in the virtual workshop. In total, 320 officers attended the workshop.
Dr Dhillon further said: “Technical support and linkage with marketing are essential for diversification.” The sale of quality nursery plants (fruits), produced by PAU, has risen from 1,10,000 in 2013 to 7,00,000 at present. The University hopes to reach the target of 10 lakh in the next few years, he added. Kinnow and potato are highly perishable crops and large number of farmers didn’t suffer this year, he observed, while stressing that the produce should have longer a shelf-life. Among fruits, guava is also coming up well and among vegetables, onion and garlic hold tremendous scope for export. Dr Dhillon emphasized on interacting with farmers as the scope of learning from farmers is more. He also shed light on de-bittering technology, hybrid seed production, kitchen gardening and organic farming.
Ms Shailender Kaur, Director of Horticulture, Punjab, revealed: “The supply of quality planting material (fruits) has been 4,80,000 during 2019-20, while during 2020-21, it has been 3,53,000 till November and is all set to touch 6 lakh.” The department is going to launch ‘Punjab Silk’ as a brand to boost sericulture activities in the state, she said. More than 20,000-25,000 farmers in Punjab are involved in sericulture and the state is looking forward to the production of mulberry, eri and tasar silk, which would double the income of silk worm rearers, she added. “Punjab is the first state in the country to introduce Tissue Culture Based Seed Potato Act 2020,” she divulged, while calling upon PAU to set up a laboratory for detecting virus free seed of potato. The area under dragon fruit, avocado and other high value fruit crops is increasing continuously in Punjab, and a separate package of practices of these crops along with their economics should be developed, she stressed.
Dr Navtej Singh Bains, Director of Research, while presenting research highlights, explained the salient features of the newly developed varieties, namely, ‘CH 52’ of chilli and ‘Chandler’ and ‘Winter Dawn’ of strawberry, which are subject to the approval of State Variety Approval Committee. He also threw light on production and protection technologies of horticultural crops.
Earlier, in his welcome remarks, Dr MIS Gill, Dean, College of Horticulture and Forestry, emphasized on focusing on quality nursery production and entrepreneurship development. Farmers can get good returns by starting primary processing with thrust on packaging and labelling, he suggested.
Dr JS Mahal, Director of Extension Education, proposed a vote of thanks.
Dr TS Riar, Additional Director of Communication, conducted the programme.
During the workshop, technical sessions on fruit crops; vegetable crops; floriculture, post-harvest management of horticultural crops, agricultural engineering, microbiology, zoology and economics were held. An exhibition, showcasing crop varieties and production-protection technologies developed by PAU, was shown virtually.