By Punjab Agricultural University on 02 May 2017 | read
The pearl millet scientists from across the country reviewed the research results of All Indian Coordinated Research Project–Pearl Millet 2016-17, discussed the thrust areas of research in pearl millet and planned the work for 2017-18 during the three-day “52nd Annual Group Meet of All India Coordinated Pearl Millet Improvement Project” which concluded at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU). The Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, PAU; Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi; and the Crop Improvement Society of India, Ludhiana, had organized the meet. Nearly 200 eminent experts from various parts of the country participated in the meet. The meet was inaugurated by Dr J.S. Sandhu, Deputy Director General (Crop Sciences), ICAR, New Delhi.
       In his address, Dr Sandhu lauded PAU for developing first pearl millet hybrid in the world. Stating that there was a record production of all crops, he observed that there was no record production of this crop (pearl millet). He emphasized on increasing area under pearl millet as the crop was free from insect problem. Dr Sandhu also stressed on reorienting the research for enhancing the productivity of pearl millet in the country.
        Dr Ashok Kumar, Director of Research, PAU, said, “HB1 (Hybrid Bajra 1) was the first hybrid of pearl millet developed by PAU in the world.” Pearl millet is a cheapest source of iron and zinc, and is gluten free, he told. This crop is grown as fodder and has tremendous potential for biomass production and good quality fodder, he added.
       Dr Balraj Singh Choudhary, Vice-Chancellor, Agriculture University, Jodhpur, stressed on promoting the cultivation of pearl millet and its hybrid seed production in the country.
      Dr C. Tara Satyavathi, Project Coordinator (Pearl Millet), AICRP-PM, Jodhpur, presented the research highlights of 2016-17. She said, “Even after having various advantages, this crop is perceived as inferior due to lack of awareness regarding its nutritional traits.” Its demand needs to be enhanced and awareness must be created about its nutritional aspects, she added.
      Chairing the plenary session, Dr Sarvjit Singh, Additional Director of Research (Crop Improvement), PAU, said the productivity of pearl millet must be boosted through the development of high yielding, short duration varieties and efficient use of agronomic inputs since the expansion of area is unlikely for this crop. “For addressing the production constraints, research areas need to be prioritized by laying emphasis on strategic and basic research,” he added. Dr Singh further said, “Pearl millet is an excellent genomic resource for isolation of candidate genes responsible for climate resilience and other stresses, therefore, institutions must come forward for collaboration and take a leap ahead in achieving the
envisaged targets.”
      Dr K.S. Thind, Head,  Plant Breeding and Genetics, also shared valuable inputs during the meet. He said the scientific deliberations during this meet have led to several recommendations which will streamline future action plan on pearl millet research. Later, he proposed the vote of thanks.
       During the three-day meet, renowned agriculture stalwarts including Dr D.S. Athwal and Dr R.L. Kapoor were honoured for their immense contributions to pearl millet improvement. Besides, retired scientists namely Dr G.R Kherwa, Dr H.R. Bishnoi and Dr S.S. Ghuge were also honoured.
       Ten technical sessions were held during the three-day meet. The technical session on review of research results and presentation of progress reports of AICRP-PM was chaired by Dr Sarvjit Singh, Additional Director of Research (Crop Improvement), PAU. The sessions on the formulation of technical programme of work in the disciplines of Crop Improvement was chaired by Dr K.S. Thind, Head,  Plant Breeding and Genetics; Crop Production by Dr Thakar Singh, Head, Agronomy; and Crop Protection by Dr R.S. Gill, Head, Entomology and Dr P.S. Sekhon, Head, Plant Pathology. The technical session on hybrid seed production of pearl millet was chaired by Dr H.P. Yadav, former Project Co-ordinator Pearl Millet. Two sessions were dedicated to in-depth panel discussions on ‘Enhancement of productivity’ and ‘Demand of pearl millet in the country.’ These were chaired by Dr Savita Sharma, Senior Scientist, Department of Food Science and Technology, PAU. Pertinent issues such as adopting a value chain approach involving usage of efficient processing technologies, development of scientifically validated shelf-stable value added products and use of ICT-linked entrepreneurship development and  innovative business models for effective market linkages were also discussed.