Technical innovations in agriculture to meet food security challenges

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NewZNew (Chandigarh) : Dr Baldev Singh Dhillon, Vice Chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, today gave a call for making technical innovations in agriculture sector to enable the world to meet the emerging challenge of food security in 21st century.

Giving a presentation on the concluding day of three-day meet by Commonwealth Parliamentary Association on agriculture Dr Dhillon said that countries would have to focus on crop improvement by conventional breeding and bio-technology, adopt new cropping systems and focus on sustainable use of agriculture resources and applied inputs. Focusing on agro-processing as value addition area in agriculture he also emphasised the need for sensor based precision in agriculture for optimum utilisation of water and other inputs.

Batting for climate resilient agriculture Dr Dhillon said that time has come that universities should pool their resources to come out with strains of climate resilient crops in view of adverse impact of global warming and unpredictable and swift climatic changes.

Favoring continuance of Minimum Support Price (MSP) regime, especially procurement by government, Dr Dhillon said that for a country like India where 80% population was dependent on agriculture sector, the intervention of government in procurement of agriculture produce was imperative to safeguard the interest of farmers from international marketing pressures.

Advising farmers to focus on diversification and take benefit of research of agriculture universities, he said that Kiwi fruit cultivation promoted by Y.S.Parmar University of Horticulture, Himachal Pradesh, has revolutionised the lives of small farmers and similarly seedless Kinnow cultivation has been instrumental in food processing this crop.

Advocating new cropping system, Dr Dhillon said that farmers could opt for either cotton (early maturing) and wheat cycle or “rice/maize-wheat-summer moong cycle” or “rice-potato-spring maize cycle” or green manure-rice/maize-wheat cycle according to climatic and soil requirements for optimum utilisation of resources.

Expressing concern over depleting water resources, Dr Baldev Singh Dhillon advocated censor based soil moisture probe that can save 15-20% irrigation water. Similarly leaf colour chart test can save 62 kg per hectare urea. Underlining the need for promoting laser land leveler, early maturing crops, direct seeding of rice, drip irrigation especially in orchards, Dr Dhillon said that water depletion in Punjab is a wakeup call for whole world and corrective steps would have to be taken by all countries.

Focusing on multi dimensional expansion of research activities, Dr Dhillon said that controlled climate vegetable cultivation has changed the lives of farmers especially in Himachal Pradesh and Punjab and such steps were needed to improve the economy of farmers. He advised small farmers to adopt bee-keeping, mushroom cultivation, to improve their economic lot.

Dr Bhagirath Choudhary from International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications also gave a presentation on “Innovations to improve Food Production and Farmers Income”.