Kharif maize has huge potential and opportunity to replace rice in region

Farmers are willing to change but they need viable option

Kharif maize has huge potential and opportunity to replace rice in region

Ludhiana: The two-day National Seminar on “Maize for Crop Diversification under Changing Climatic Scenario” began at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) today on the occasion of the sixth Foundation Day of ICAR-Indian Institute of Maize Research (IIMR), Ludhiana. The seminar has been organized by Maize Technologists Association of India (MATI), New Delhi in collaboration with ICAR-IIMR and PAU, Ludhiana. Nearly 150 delegates from across the country are attending the seminar.

Mr Suresh Kumar, Chief Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister of Punjab, was the chief guest. Delivering the foundation day-cum-inaugural address, he said, “Kharif maize has a huge potential and opportunity to replace rice in the region. Farmers are willing to change but they need a viable option. In this context, maize is a credible option for crop diversification on the account of losing water, degrading soil and human health, loss of crop and biodiversity.” He stressed on taking steps to mitigate the factors of climate change affecting agriculture, which is a major driver for the economy of Punjab. There is a need to increase expenditure on research and development in agriculture for sustaining the economy, he added. The policy change is required in order to meet the market requirement and sustainability as at present there is more subsidy on rice cultivation than maize, he observed.

Dr Baldev Singh Dhillon, Vice-Chancellor, PAU, in his chairman address, emphasized that the research on new frontiers like double haploid and GM crop needs to be strengthened for combating upcoming challenges. Other factors like mechanization, micro-irrigation, water use efficiency, weed control and awareness amongst farmers about new technologies also need focus for the faster adoption of maize cultivation, he added.

The World Food Prize Laureate Dr SK Vasal, urged for single strategy and low cost skillful innovations in maize for solving complex problems.

Dr BM Prasanna, Director, Global Maize Programme, CIMMYT, who was the special guest, said spring maize has tremendous opportunity in the Indo-Gangetic region.

Dr Sujay Rakshit, Director of ICAR-IIMR, highlighted that the institute has released three hybrids in addition to four hybrids identified for release at the national level. The institute is moving aggressively to commercialize the released hybrids. The institute has also bagged five externally funded projects worth Rs 19.68 crores and signed several memoranda of understanding (MoUs) for maize hybrid seed production for taking technologies to the farmers in 2019.

On the occasion, Dr BS Dhillon, Vice-Chancellor, PAU, was conferred with “Dr NL Dhawan Lifetime Achievement Award” by MATI. Five MoUs were also signed between IIMR and various organizations (NSC, NDDB, LPU, CDAC, AgriInnovate and CCS University) in the area of maize research and development. On the first day, four technical sessions were held in which eight lead lectures and 12 rapid fire presentations on maize research and development were presented.