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Experts at Asian Maize Conference express concern over growing incidence of Fall Armyworm

The Asian Maize Conference and expert consultation on “Maize for Food, Feed, Nutrition, and Environmental Security” were held in Ludhiana last week.

The three-day conference was jointly organized by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre, ICAR-Indian Institute of Maize Research (ICAR-IIMR), Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), CGIAR Research Program on Maize and the Borlaug Institute for South Asia (BISA), with more than 260 participants from several maize-growing countries in Asia besides experts from outside the continent. 

The conference had nine technical sessions on the aspects of maize improvement through novel tools, enhancing farmers’ income, socioeconomics,  crop management, and conservation agriculture, farm mechanization etc. The conference also had three-panel discussions. The 2018 Maize-Asia Youth Innovators Awards were awarded to four scientists. 

Dr. Trilochan Mohapatra, Secretary (DARE) & Director General (ICAR) inaugurated the Conference and urged the scientists to work towards increasing maize productivity to five tons per hectare in the Kharif season. Citing an example of Pakistan and China, Dr Mohapatra dwelled on the need for public-private partnership system in India for developing hybrids to improve maize productivity. 

Dr Martin Kropff, Director General, CIMMYT said maize in Asia has high productivity and high demand, with a 5.2 percent annual growth as compared to a global average of 3.5 percent but its demand would double by the year 2050. “Therefore, we need to produce two times more maize in Asia, using half as much input, and it needs to be twice as nutritious,” he added. Dr Kropff stressed the need for continued funding for maize research keeping in mind the climate change problem. 

Dr B.M. Prasanna, Director, Global Maize Programme, CIMMYT and CGIAR  Research Programme on Maize highlighted the diverse range of topics to be covered in the conference, from breeding for climate resilience in maize-based systems and climate-smart agriculture to socio – economics for greater impact besides the importance of public private partnerships. Dr Prasanna also expressed his concern at the growing incidence of ‘fall armyworm’, an invasive insect pest that has spread through 44 countries in Africa and was recently reported in India. “Working together to control this pest needs to be our prime importance,” he said. 

In his welcome remarks Dr N.S. Bains, Director Research, Punjab Agricultural University, expressed delight at the conference being held in India for the second time after 24 years.  Dr. B.S. Dhillon, Vice Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University was awarded with MAIXE Champion Award on the occasion. 



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