Experts bat for crop diversification at Ludhiana’s PAU conference
Highlight the critical need for rural diversification to sustain both the rural society and economy commenced at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana
The two-day virtual annual conference of the Indian Society of Agricultural Development and Policy (ISADP) aimed to highlight the critical need for rural diversification to sustain both the rural society and economy commenced at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) on Wednesday.
RS Ghuman, economics professor at Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, delivered the keynote address on “Prospectus of Rural Development in Punjab: Issues and Way Forward”.
Ghuman highlighted the pressing need for agricultural diversification, particularly in a region where 60-65% of rural households are landless. He emphasised that the development of the non-farm sector and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) was crucial to boost the rural economy, especially as farm income has reached a plateau.
“With 70% of Punjab residing in rural areas, urgent attention is required to diversify the economy,” he said.
Expressing concern over severe air pollution and water crises, Ghuman lamented that Punjab’s economy could no longer be labelled “agrarian”. Drawing attention to southern India’s successful cultivation of paddy without resorting to stubble burning, he urged a shift from the wheat-paddy cropping pattern. Furthermore, Ghuman criticised the lack of sustainable policies in Punjab’s rural development and questioned the effective utilisation of billions spent on the sector.
Another economist Dr HS Bhatti, professor of sociology at Punjabi University, Patiala, addressed the conference on “Three Paradigms of Environmental Crisis and Sustainability”. Bhatti called for an “economy of permanence” and urged the development of underdeveloped societies while putting an end to the dominance, exploitation, and misuse of nature.
ISADP president and department of economics and sociology head JM Singh stressed the significance of technological innovations and investments for sustainable agriculture. He warned against neglecting the role of climate, biodiversity, and conservation, emphasising their impact on sustainable development.
Addressing broader societal issues, ISADP general secretary Arjinder Kaur highlighted the need to address gender inequality, unemployment, and rising suicides for the restoration of planetary health. She reported that 60 research papers focusing on empowering rural communities and conserving livelihoods have been submitted for the conference.
Climate smart strategies in focus at workshop
The 34th national level three-week Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)-sponsored Centre for Advanced Faculty Training (CAFT) programme on “Climate Smart Strategies to Increase Input Use Efficiency of Soil and Water Resources” kicked off in the PAU’s department of soil science.
Scientists from six states comprising Gujarat, Bihar, Telangana, Haryana, Jammu and Tamil Nadu are attending this training course.
Inaugurating the training programme, the chief guest College of Agriculture dean CS Aulakh highlighted the benefits of sustainable agriculture which focused on increasing the productivity of soil, organic farming and reducing the harmful effects of agricultural practices on climate, soil, water, environment and human health.
Department of soil science head and CAFT director Dhanwinder Singh shared the achievements of the department as well as faculty in the area of soil science including being awarded ICAR-sponsored Career Advancement Scheme (CAS) in 1994.
Earlier, R Sikka, CAFT chief coordinator welcomed the participants and the faculty. He informed that the training would lay thrust on resource conservation technologies; carbon sequestration - nutrient, water and residue management; alternate uses of crop wastes; agroforestry; organic farming and farming system approach.