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World Bank Delegation Visits PAU to Review NAHEP and Explore Collaborations

A delegation of World Bank experts visited Punjab Agricultural University to review the National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP) and explore future research collaborations.

KJ Staff
World Bank Delegation Visits PAU to Review NAHEP and Explore Collaborations (Photo Source: PAU)
World Bank Delegation Visits PAU to Review NAHEP and Explore Collaborations (Photo Source: PAU)

A delegation of esteemed experts from the World Bank recently visited Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) in Ludhiana to review the National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP) and discuss potential research collaborations. The delegation included Mr. Bekzod Shamsiev, Senior Agriculture Economist and Task Team Leader for NAHEP, and Dr. Gerry Boyle, a consultant for the World Bank on the NAHEP project. The meeting was hosted by PAU’s Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Satbir Singh Gosal, in Chandigarh.

During the discussions, Dr. Gosal emphasized the pressing agricultural challenges in Punjab, such as climate change, water scarcity, and environmental sustainability. He highlighted the adverse effects of traditional rice cultivation, which involves standing water that emits harmful methane and carbon monoxide, as well as the widespread use of agro-chemicals that pollute the soil, water, and air. To address these issues, Dr. Gosal outlined PAU's innovations in Integrated Nutrient, Pest, and Disease Management aimed at reducing agro-chemical dependency. He also discussed the Alternate Wetting and Drying technique for rice cultivation, which helps conserve water and protect the environment, alongside the development of biopesticides and biofertilizers.

Dr. Gosal also addressed the challenges of crop surpluses, especially in kinnow and potato production, stressing the need for enhanced processing facilities, value addition, and improved supply chains. He explored the export potential for various crops, including basmati rice, winter vegetables, kinnow, guava, litchi, green peas, chili, garlic, flower seeds, turmeric powder, and honey.

The World Bank delegation proposed establishing cold storage facilities at the farmer level and emphasized the importance of linking Farmers Producer Organizations (FPOs) with market intelligence experts to improve production quality in Punjab. They suggested that tapping into the export potential of Punjab's agricultural produce could foster diversification, conserve natural resources, create jobs, and increase farmers' incomes, thus benefiting both the farmers and the broader economy.

Earlier discussions at PAU were led by Dr. Ajmer Singh Dhatt, PAU’s Director of Research, and attended by university officers and faculty members. Dr. Dhatt highlighted PAU’s pioneering role in the Green Revolution and its ongoing efforts in sustainable agriculture. He detailed the university's work in water-saving technologies, short-duration crop varieties, genomic-assisted breeding, crop residue management, biofertilizers, post-harvest handling, and specialty crop varieties. He also discussed advanced agricultural technologies such as genome editing, micropropagation, genetically modified crops, and nano-fertilizers. Dr. Dhatt noted PAU’s extensive outreach activities, reaching over 12,000 villages in Punjab, and its strong linkages with farmers. He also highlighted PAU’s top NIRF rankings, ICAR awards, and recognition as an Institute of Excellence.

Dr. J.M. Singh, Head of the Department of Economics and Sociology at PAU, spoke about government policies and the producer support program, elaborating on farmers’ cropping choices and the profitability of major crop rotations in Punjab. Dr. Dhanwinder Singh, Head of the Department of Soil Science, shared the successes of the ICAR NAHEP-CAAST project "School of Natural Resource Management for Sustainable Agriculture," emphasizing the impact of water-saving technologies on farmers’ fields and the need to scale these technologies for sustainable agriculture.

The World Bank representatives commended PAU’s efforts under the NAHEP project, acknowledging the new sustainability challenges of producing more food while conserving water, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and protecting biodiversity. They discussed the need for innovative solutions, including potential technologies for carbon sequestration, which could provide valuable data for negotiations with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). They suggested ranking technologies based on income generation and carbon offset potential and emphasized identifying core institutions across India to work on these issues.

The delegation engaged in a Q&A session about the technologies developed under the project, receiving positive feedback from PAU faculty. Dr. Manav Indra Singh Gill, Dean of Post Graduate Studies, welcomed the guests, and Dr. Jagdeep Sandhu, Coordinator of the Internal Quality Assurance Cell, PAU, proposed the vote of thanks.

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