PAU year-ender 2010: expansion, innovation and Advancement-hallmark of PAU

Ludhiana , December 29

The Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), in the year 2010, was agog with activities concerning academics, research, technology transfer, international visitors and extra-curricular activities. Expansion, innovation and advancement were the hallmark of the year.  Accreditation Board of the ICAR extended accreditation period of the University, endorsing the innovation and excellence achieved in teaching, research and extension education. 

The budget estimates of PAU for the year 2010-11 amounting to ₨ 33160.16 lac is in operation. The break-up of the budget allocation is 63.41% for research, 18.47% for teaching, 10.12% for extension and 8.00% for administrative and miscellaneous activities. The University steered through 258, 51, 71 and 10 schemes for research, teaching, extension and others. Projects from various national/ international funding sources were also obtained. The share of Punjab government, ICAR, and other sources in the budget is 55.03, 14.35 and 30.62%, respectively. The problem of pension was resolved by obtaining the funds through Rural Development Fund (RDF) Scheme with the support of Hon'ble Chief Minister, Punjab, S. Parkash Singh Badal.  

The significant achievement was the meeting of PAU Vice-Chancellor Dr Manjit Singh Kang with US President Barrack Obama at St; Xavier’s College, Mumbai. Dr Kang was the only Vice Chancellor from India to have the honour of being invited at a round table discussion on ‘Agriculture and Food Security’ held in Mumbai. PAU would partner the US in a global food security plan. President Barack Obama was enthusiastic about India’s involvement in food security agenda of US for African countries and spoke of the evergreen revolution under its “Feed the Future” programme for global food security. Dr Kang, in a discussion with Obama’s adviser Rajeev Shah and US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, traced the development of India that made the country self-sufficient on food front. He highlighted PAU’s emphasis on research, on resource conservation technologies and human resource development in the cutting-edge technology areas through training faculty and students under collaborative agreements.

The Walter Sisulu University (WSU), South Africa, evinced keen interest to adopt PAU model for raising agricultural production and alleviating poverty through rural development. Dr Kang delivered the keynote address at the 6th WSU Annual Rural Development Conference, held in September.

Dr. Kang was decorated with the Amity Academic Excellence Award by the Amity University in recognition of his contributions, vision, innovation, competitiveness and   sustenance during the international Business summit (INBUSH) – 2010. 

The enrollment of students for undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral courses has shown an upward trend. The total number of students enrolled during 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11 was 1793, 2157 and 2605, respectively, showing the upswing each year. The 6 year B.Sc Agriculture (Honours) and 6 year B.Sc Home Science (Honours) programmes have attracted the ruralites.  The credit goes to the new policy initiative for making the academic environment student-friendly.  During the year, PAU has expanded its academic dimensions by initiating new programmes in the fields of education, research and transfer of technology. New Ph.D programmes have been introduced for the academic session 2010-2011 in the fields of Agrometeorology, Floriculture & Landscaping and Sociology. Several M.Sc (32) and Ph. D (12) students got fellowships from ICAR, CSIR, UGC and other national agencies. The University Merit fellowship was awarded to 86 M.Sc students and 26 Ph.D students while 12 Ph.D students qualified for the University stipend.  Smart classrooms have been established in different departments.  Course curricula were revised as per recommendations of National Core Group of ICAR. Ph. D dissertations of two students were awarded 'Jawaharlal Nehru Award' by the ICAR.  PAU students fetched 19 gold medals, 2 silver medals and one bronze medal in the All India Inter-Agricultural University Youth Festival held at Allahabad.

A number of new appointments were made which include Dr Satbir Singh Gosal as Director of Research, Dr Gursharan Singh as Dean Postgraduate Studies, and Dr P.K. Khanna as Coordinator of Research, College of Basic Sciences and Humanities. Dr. Lubana took over as Dean of College of Agricultural Engineering & Technology (COA&E) on June 18.  Providing focus on human resource development, the University provided opportunities to its faculty and staff for skill enhancement through partnership in collaborative programmes, exchange of scientists/students. Several scientists attended national/international programs in their area of specialization. Young scientists (food science, horticulture, economics, biotechnology, breeding, agri-engineering, etc.) attended trainings in cutting-edge   areas abroad. Dr. J.S. Sandhu, Senior Scientist (Pulses) at PAU was appointed as Assistant Director General  (Seeds) of ICAR. Dr. Ramesh Kumar, Professor and Head, Department of Floriculture and Landscaping was appointed as Director, Directorate of Floricultural Research, New Delhi for five years.  

PAU continued to pursue its research agenda vigorously. It released 10 improved crop varieties at the state level which included two each of wheat (PDW 314 and PBW 621) and cotton (MRC 7017BG-II and MRC 7031BG-II of private sector), one each of soybean (SL 744) and pear (Nijisseiki) and four of gladiolus (Punjab Pink Elegance, Punjab Flame, Punjab Glance and Punjab Lemon Delight). Five varieties/ hybrids of different crops including wheat (PDW 314), maize (JH 31110 and JH 31153), summer urdbean (LU391) and kharif urdbean (KUG 479) were released at the national level. Nine national research projects worth  ₨ 1377.86 lakhs and six foreign research projects with the total outlay of  ₨ 83.59 lakhs funded by various agencies, have been sanctioned. PAU developed and released research-based recommendations for crop production (11) and crop protection (12) technologies. To bring timeliness and precision in agricultural operations, eight new farm machines were recommended which include: paired row sugarcane trench planter, paddy straw chopper, groundnut thresher, power weeder (adaptive), mat type nursery, moong thresher, raya thresher and dual purpose greenhouse for simultaneous nursery and crop raising.  Protective clothing for okra pickers was developed under “All India Co-ordinated Research Project in Home Science – Clothing and Textiles Unit.”  Two patents for new inventions were applied by Department of Microbiology and School of Energy Studies in Agriculture, during the year.

The Toxicology Lab at PAU has been strengthened with a grant of ₨ 5.00 crore from the Punjab Government and subsequently accredited by the NABL.  The Lab has been equipped with state-of-the-art equipments and analytical gadgets.  Facilities for producing disease-free quality nursery of kinnow were strengthened and production targets fixed. The kinnow nursery at PAU has qualified for national level accreditation as 'four star' rank. PAU also endeavored to educate farmers about the need of diversification in agriculture.  It’s IPR-Cell has a mandate to educate farmers about IPR and Farmer’s rights through camps and mass media dissemination. Agricultural Market Intelligence Centre (AMIC) is educating farmers about the market trends of different   crops.

The PAU research focus remained on biotechnology, eco-friendly & cost-effective technologies for natural-resource conservation, bio-control of crop pests and diseases, green-house/net-house  technologies for vegetable crops, IPM; farm machinery for water-use efficiency, etc.; technologies for generation of biofuel/bio-energy etc.;  empowering women; market-oriented approaches; project monitoring/impact assessment linkage with industry/market(e.g., post-harvest handling, processing/value addition);public-private partnership in research; IT in generation and dissemination of information, strengthening research through communication and administration.

The holding of convocation every year has become a regular feature at PAU now with the efforts of Dr Kang. The 36th Annual Convocation of PAU was held on February 10. On this occasion, Prof. M.S. Swaminathan, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha), was conferred with the Degree of Science (Honoris Causa). Three hundred fifty five degrees of Ph.D/M.Sc/M.Tech/ MBA/MBA (Agri. Business) were awarded. Twelve Gold Medal/other Medals were also awarded. Under the faculty recognition programme five teachers/scientists were awarded cash prizes and plaques. Dr. Kang honored Vinod Kumar, working in the Estate Organization, PAU for act of honesty.

PAU in partnership with National Research Centre on Plant Biotechnology, New Delhi and  University of Delhi South Campus, New Delhi has been sanctioned a Network Project “Physical mapping and sample sequencing of Wheat Chromosome 2A- International Wheat Genome Sequencing  Consortium (India)”  by the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India.  PAU has the distinction of bagging a major share of ₨ 18.33 crores out of the total amount of ₨ 3456.45 lakhs for a period of four years.  

PAU fetched two prestigious US projects that include the one funded by the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) on “International Research and Education Collaboration with India and China in Information and Communication Technologies in Agriculture and Precision Agriculture” with a budget layout of $ 1,50,000 for three years.  The second significant award is covered under “Basic Research to Enable Agricultural Development (BREAD) for the year 2010 in which PAU, Washington State University and University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point are involved.  Two scientists, one each from Wheat Section and Biotechnology, have proceeded to USA under the project.  This mega project has a budgetary lay out of $ 1.5 million.  

The COA&E and the College of Home Science (COHS) have put their learning material on-line. The Placement Cell of the College of Agriculture (COA), in collaboration with University Counseling, Placement and Guidance Cell, organized interviews and campus placements for the benefit of the students. A total of 78 students were placed in various jobs in Axis Bank, Corporation Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce, Mahindra and Mahindra, IFFCO, Vardhman Textiles, Sonalika Group, Syngenta India Ltd., Green Fiesta, Pixie Consulting Solutions Ltd., Hindustan Pulverising Mills Pvt. Ltd.,etc. during the period. The Department of Floriculture and Landscaping has collaborated with M/s. Fleuroselect, Holland for the supply of flower seeds for testing. The College of Basic Sciences and Humanities, COA&E and COHS have been sanctioned total 18 projects which would be funded by various agencies.

During the year, PAU inked memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with following international/ national organizations for collaboration in mutually beneficial areas.

  • HEBEI Academy of Agriculture & Forestry Sciences, China for joint research projects to develop staff exchange, short trainings and long term scholarship programmes
  • Washington State University, Pullman, USA for collaborative academic and research programmes
  • PAU and Universidad Pedagogica, Mozambique signed an agreement for wide ranging academic and developmental collaboration.
  • Directorate of Wheat Research (DWR), Karnal  to promote physical and technical research facilities for wheat and barley
  • National research Centre for Citrus (NRCC), Nagpur for promoting research on citriculture
  • Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc./ Pioneer Overseas Corporation, USA for identification of genes for traits of commercial agricultural importance, crop improvement and scientific exchange programmes
  • Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel University of Agriculture & Technology, Meerut for exchange of faculty/students, PG resource sharing and technology transfer
  • Cornell University, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, New York for developing scientific projects, and programmes, etc.
  • Maharana Pratap University of Agriculture & Technology , Udaipur for cooperation in the field of agricultural education through sandwich programme
  • HDFC Bank Ltd., Ludhiana for advancement of academic and business exchanges
  • Nestle India Ltd., Moga for Health and Nutrition Awareness Programmes

The eminent scientists from USA, Russia, China, Germany, South Africa, Nepal and Australia visited PAU for the academic interactions, exchange of agricultural techniques and other mutually beneficial collaborations. Farmers from France, Nepal, Brazil and Canada visited PAU and interacted with experts.

World renowned rice breeder Dr. Gurdev Singh Khush has set up ‘Dr. Gurdev Singh Khush Foundation’ for the advancement of agricultural sciences with the headquarters at his alma-mater PAU. He has donated the award money worth   3 crore to this foundation with the objective to promote agricultural research through competitive grants and project assistance to research teams of PAU, to provide scholarships to the needy students hailing from rural areas of Punjab and to provide assistance to the national and international scholars for participation in national, regional or international conferences, workshops, expert consultation, study tours, lectures and seminars.

One new fellowship in the name of S. Gurdit Singh Kang and a new Gold Medal in the name of Dr. Manjit Singh Kang have been instituted to encourage academic excellence in B.Sc. Agriculture (Hons.) 6 year and M.Sc. Biotechnology programmes, respectively.

Transfer of Technology programmes (40) and training camps/courses (1950) were held for the benefit of farmers, farm women and rural youth. A total of 10 Kisan Melas with the theme ‘Conserve Natural Resources for Prosperity of All’ were held (five each in March and September) at Ludhiana, Gurdaspur, Ballowal Saunkhri, Bathinda and Rauni(Patiala). Seven progressive farmers were honoured for outstanding contribution in various segments of agriculture on the occasion of the Kisan Mela. Pre-season workshops were organized for kharif and rabi crops, horticulture, soil conservation, etc., wherein the problems and new recommendations were discussed with the officers of state departments. More than ten thousand farmers visited the Plant Clinic for diagnosis/redressal of their field problems.   

PAU organized a number of scientific and cultural programmes.  An international workshop on “Accomplishing Food Security of Stored Grains through Novel  Storage Practices” was organized at PAU on May, 27 wherein Dr. Dirk Maier of  Kansas State University presented an over view of research on Food Grain Storage. A South-Asian Regional Training on Conservation Agriculture, jointly by Central Systems Initiative for South-Asia (CSISA), CIMMYT and PAU was organized at PAU in which participants from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Uzbekistan participated. A farm tools manufacturers meet (January 19-20), a Workshop on Cooperative Movement in Agriculture (January 21), the Alumni Meet of College of Agriculture (February 11-12, where alumni holding prominent positions in the country participated), national seminar on Women Empowerment (February 18-19), a workshop on creation and dissemination of knowledge (April 19-21) were organized.  PAU held public awareness campaign about RTI and Mr. Rameshinder Singh, Chief Information Commissioner delivered a talk. The seminars by eminent educationists were organized in all the four constituent colleges of PAU for the academic enlightenment of the students. The workshops were organized for illuminating the minds of the farmers. A number of faculty members of PAU won prestigious awards at national level. The 44th Annual Athletic Meet of PAU was held on February 5.

During the year, new infrastructure was created. Dr Kang laid foundation stone of the international centre of PAU at a cost of Rs 1.5 crore. PAU  named a road adjoining the University Library and the Gymnasium as 'Olympian Road' after the Olympians  namely,   Mr. Charanjit Singh (1964 Olympics, Tokyo), Mr. Prithipal Singh (1968 Olympics Mexico) and Mr. Ramandeep Singh Grewal (2000 Olympics, Sydney), it has produced.  

The University maintains Dr M.S.Swaminathan Heritage Tree Park wherein several Indian and foreign dignitaries, who visited PAU, planted tree saplings.

The Centre for Communication and International Linkages (CCIL) continued to project the policies and programs of PAU through its press releases to electronic and print media. An International South Asian Peace Seminar was organized (February 13-14) wherein experts from within the country and abroad participated. An Interface on Communication Skills and Human Behavior was organized by CCIL for Ludhiana Police Personnels (March, 17). PAU facilitated Dr. Surjit Patar, a noted Punjabi Poet and former Professor of Punjabi and recipient of the coveted Saraswati Samman (April 22). The CCIL released his exclusive poster on the occasion. A documentary, “Harvest of grief” produced by the renowned  film maker Mr. Rasil Basu and directed by Mr. Anwar Jamal was screened (May 20). A docudrama on Water Literacy Campaign was organized and a CD was released. The CCIL organized a number of painting exhibitions at Dr M.S.Randhawa Art Gallery, to encourage the artists and promote their art work. PAU organized a programme in which Ustad Khadim Hussain Warsi and Janab Husnain Akbar enthralled the audience with their rendition of ' Heer'.

A two-day Chrysanthemum show, dedicated to the renowned Punjabi poet, Bhai Vir Singh, was organized on the university premises (December 2-3), which provided a rich feast to the viewers. The ten-day PAU Inter – College Youth Festival (October 21 -30) showcased State’s rich folk culture with colourful extravaganza. More than 500 student-artistes of the constituent colleges of the university took part in the lined-up series of events, demonstrating their talent and creativity.  The National Service Scheme (NSS) unit of PAU laid emphasis on campus beautification, Cleanliness drive and many inspirational lectures organized for the benefit of students. Poster making and debate competitions, educational trip and a rally against social evils were organized.

Mohinder Singh Randhawa library has recently provided Wi-fi facility to the Reading Hall in order to enable the students to use internet facility for academic purpose on their laptops. Free access to online databases (CeRA, J-Gate, Indiastat.com, Mylibrary.com, Krishiprabha, etc) was provided. A Reading Hall named after the Founder Librarian Dr T.P.Saxena provides 24 hour service to readers. A laboratory was set up which provided access to CDs for preparation of TOFEL, GRE and other computer based competitive exams. The Library has automated its activities like registration of membership, cataloguing of books, journals & theses, issue and return of books, generation of bar codes & spine labels, catalogue of library holdings known as Library Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC) using Libsys 4 (Library management software). 

PAU observed various events such as Republic Day, World Food Day, Earth Day, National technology Day, World Environment Day, Independence Day, Van Mahotsva, etc. with enthusiasm wherein students and faculty took part with ardor. It has planned events for 2011. The significant ones are International Conference on 'Preparing Agriculture for Climate Change' (February 6-8), Honey Mela and experience sharing workshop (February, 22-24), Indo-US Workshop on Precision agriculture Techniques and Technologies (February 28-March 3).

The PAU Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Kang has extended greetings and best wishes to agricultural scientists, educationists and farmers for a prosperous and productive 2011.