Fri, Mar 9, 2018 at 5:00 PM
Diversification to maize can be an important change for Punjab
Ludhiana: 9th March 2018: (Punjab Screen Bureau)::
We need to consider quantity rationing of water usage by stopping free electricity and curb the subsidy on fertilizer over five years, said Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, eminent economist and former Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission, Government of India while delivering his talk on " Challenges in Agriculture: Some Policy Options” at the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) today. 14 students and scientists of PAU were awarded the G.S. Khush travel grant for participation in conferences in India and abroad, while another 38 from PAU and 14 from GADVASU were bestowed with the G.S. Khush Merit Scholarship at the annual award ceremony of the Gurdev Singh Khush Foundation for Advancement of Agricultural Sciences. The dignitaries on the dais also included Dr Gurdev Singh Khush, PAU alumnus and father of the rice revolution, Mrs Harwant Khush, Dr B.S. Dhillon, PAU Vice Chancellor, Dr S.S. Johl, Chancellor, Central University of Punjab, Dr K.S. Gill, former Vice Chancellor, PAU, Dr A.S. Nanda, Vice Chancellor, GADVASU and Dr D.S. Brar, Secretary, Khush Foundation.
Dr Ahluwalia, while addressing a huge gathering of faculty members at the Pal Auditorium emphasized on the need to have an educated and informed electorate so that government leaders can be held accountable for relevant targets. He also pointed the absence of a risk mitigating system in agriculture that is one of the chief reasons of farm distress. While stressing on the need for pro farmer policies Dr Ahluwalia recalled the period from 2004 to 2011 when the country reported increase in farm income and biggest decline in poverty. “The factors responsible were better land productivity, supportive prices for farmers, boom in construction investment and increase in farm product prices”, he elaborated. Dr Ahluwalia further stressed on the need to diversify from cereals to horticultural crops and setting of transformational targets to capture these changes over a period of ten years. “ Diversification to maize can be an important change for Punjab as also dairy if the CM’s objective of getting out of paddy is to be achieved”, he observed. While suggesting the development of integrated value chains as a part of the ‘plough to plate’ approach, Dr Ahluwalia appealed for conviction on the part of the policy makers towards eliminating policy constraints. He highlighted the imminent need for judicious use of water which he said can be achieved by having public sector pumps responsible for quantity rationing. Voicing his concern in the field of research, the economist said that we need to think about institution structures and vested interests in the system that deny flexibility to the academia to do ground breaking research. He called for shift in attitude and more clarity towards the requirement of GM crops, failing which we will be negatively unique in the world, given the high degree of threat of climate change that looms in front of us. Dr G.S. Khush congratulated the award winners and motivated them to strive for further excellence in their fields. He also urged the rural students to dream and work hard to achieve them.
Earlier Dr Dhillon welcomed the dignitaries and formally introduced the speaker of the day. He dismissed agricultural distress in the state citing record productivity in non basmati rice, wheat and cotton, and rather stressed on the need for strong policy interventions to boost agriculture in Punjab.