The Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana hosted the meeting of the Quinquennial Review Team (QRT) constituted by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) to review the progress of wheat and barley research work carried out by different agricultural universities and research institutes under the “All India Coordinated Wheat & Barley Improvement Project” during the period 2013-18. The team comprising of four members, namely Dr P.S. Minhas, Ex-Director, National Institute of Abiotic Stress Management (NIAM), Baramati, Pune; Dr D.V. Singh, Former Head, Division of Plant Pathology, IARI, New Delhi; Dr. G. P. Singh, Director, ICAR-Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research (IIWBR), Karnal and Dr. Ratan Tiwari, Principal Scientist (Biotechnology), IIWBR, Karnal visited P.A.U. Ludhiana on January 29, 2019.
The ICAR team was received and felicitated by Dr. B.S. Dhillon, Vice Chancellor, PAU, Ludhiana. The team congratulated Dr. Dhillon for the Padma Shri Award bestowed on him recently. Dr. Dhillon apprised the team members of the contributions of PAU towards Indian agriculture as well as the recent successes achieved in solving several agricultural problems faced by farmers. The research review meeting was held in the Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, PAU that is housed in Chaudhary Ram Dhan Singh Laboratories named after the legendry wheat breeder. In his welcome address Dr. N.S. Bains, Director of Research, P.A.U, Ludhiana highlighted the research contributions made by PAU in wheat and their role in increasing wheat productivity and production in the Punjab state. Dr. Ratan Tiwari, Member Secretary QRT in his introductory remarks underlined the need of breeding climate resilient varieties for improving sustainability. Dr Minhas in his opening remarks emphasized on improving the water use efficiency of wheat for better conservation of ground water. Dr. D.V. Singh suggested on tackling important diseases of wheat including rusts, and Karnal bunt of wheat. Dr. P.P.S. Pannu, Additional Director Research, PAU and Dr. Parveen Chhuneja, Director, School of Agricultural Biotechnology, PAU also participated in the meeting.
The team reviewed the progress of research work of various research centres across the North Western Plains Zone (NWPZ) and Northern Hills Zone (NHZ) of India. Scientists from different centres namely PAU Ludhiana, CCSHAU Hisar, GBPUAT Pantnagar, SKNAU Durgapura, SKUAST Jammu, CSKHPKV Palampur, CSKHPKV Bajaura, CAU Imphal and IARI RS Shimla presented their research achievements and innovations made during the past five years along with the future plan of work and targets for the next five year plan.
The major research achievements made by the PAU wheat research team during the past five year period under review included the development, release and notification of nine wheat varieties of which five were released at the national level. Prominent among these were PBW 725, Unnat PBW 343 (first wheat variety in India developed through marker assisted backcross breeding), PBW 1Zn (bio fortified variety with high grain zinc content). Besides these, several in-house genes for rust resistance were designated, tagged and mobilized into elite varieties. Several genetic stocks were developed and registered. Large number of crop production technologies were recommended during the past five years aiming at savings of nitrogen fertilizer and water (through Green seeker, drip irrigation and fertigation schedule) and to mitigate the effect of heat stress (through salicylic acid or potassium nitrate). Many crop protection technologies for management of wheat diseases and insect pests were also recommended during this period. The QRT members lauded the research work conducted by Punjab Agricultural University on wheat improvement and appreciated the cohesiveness of the multi-disciplinary research team and seamless integration with the School of Agricultural Biotechnology evident through the adoption of new plant breeding tools in varietal development. The QRT members impressed upon the research workers from other agricultural universities to emulate the research model of PAU team and encouraged them to replicate the research output at their respective institutes. They also requested PAU to provide material assistance and access to new technology to wheat research programs of other agricultural universities especially of north India.
Dr. G.P. Singh, Director IIWBR, Karnal gave very pertinent and useful suggestions which helped in formulating the research agenda for the coming years so as to strengthen wheat research in North India. The meeting ended with a vote of thanks by Dr. G. S. Mangat, Head of the Dept. of Plant Breeding and Genetics, P.A.U., Ludhiana who highlighted the target oriented approach to address the problems related to wheat crop at state and national level.