The two day Research and Extension specialists’ Workshop for Fruits, Mushroom, Agro Forestry, Post-Harvest Management, Farm Power and Machinery, Food Technology and Agricultural Economics, organized by the Directorate of Extension Education, PAU, kicked off here at the Pal Auditorium today. In his remarks as Chief Guest at the event, PAU Vice Chancellor, Dr B.S. Dhillon reviewed the importance of fruit crops from being a mere status symbol a few decades back to occupying a center stage for agricultural diversification and economic progress in the state. While bringing to light the imminent need for agro processing in horticultural crops, Dr Dhillon pointed towards the strengthening of government policies and research towards the same. He also called upon stronger connect with established orchard owners whose knowledge and experience will add value to the University’s research. “Since fruits are a perishable commodity, focus needs to be built on glut management and in this regard the PAU’s Food Industry Center is doing a commendable job of training farmers for small scale processing techniques,” said Dr Dhillon, while adding that sensitization of farmers towards agro processing is vital to change the face of agricultural development. He also mentioned how Punjab faces a social crisis rather than an agricultural crisis; the way out of this, he stated is to help farmers generate income from allied sources. Dr Dhillon ideated the need for increased are under horticultural crops and simultaneous development of aggressive marketing strategies to help increase fruit export. While discussing the floor management of crops, the Vice Chancellor highlighted indigenization of horticultural machines to suit the farmers’ needs. He lauded the work done by PAU scientists in the field of Integrated Pest Management especially in the field of bio agents. Giving example of PAU’s immense contribution towards honey and mushroom, Dr Dhillon called for similar focus in promoting agro forestry, kitchen gardening and roof top vegetable cultivation in urban areas. He invited suggestions and feedback of participants to ensure success of the workshop.
The Guest of Honour, Dr G.S. Gill, Directorate of Horticulture Punjab brought attention towards increased area under horticultural crops in the state and how the kinnow monoculture leads to glut becauses of which prices crash, causing tremendous losses to farmers. To prevent the same Dr Gill shared work on new varieties of mandarin and sweet orange that mature in November and can help in glut management. He highlighted the regular farmers trainings on citrus carried out at the Indo Israeli Center for Excellence at Khannoura . Similar trainings he mentioned are being conducted at the Center of Excellence in vegetables at Kartarpur that specializes in protected cultivation. “It is heartening to see the farmers adopting them too,” he shared. Dr Gill later dwelled on problems of greening in citrus, nematodes in guava and frost damage in mango that need to be addressed. He called on further boost to horticulture for addressing the problem of water scarcity and stubble burning in the state.
Dr N.S. Bains, Director of Research, PAU, shared recommendations of horticultural crops. Punjab Apple Guava, developed from open pollinated source has medium plant size, dark red, creamy flesh with 11.8% sweetness. With average yield of 58 kilos per plant, this variety is apt for winter sowing.
Black fig 1 is a variety of figs with medium height with fruit maturation in mid-June to last week of July. Fruit pulp is creamish pink with pleasant fragrance. The variety has yield of 13 kilos per plant.
Daisy Tangerine, a citrus variety with 15% better yield was also proposed by Dr Bains. Besides, inter cropping of groundnut TG 37 was also recommended with ber in the month of May. The groundnut gets harvested in August, giving opportunity to raise good income from ber. Recommendation was also given for proper processing of guava, known as the super fruit. With the nectar shelf life of one year, guava processing techniques at household level will promote nutritional fortification due to presence of carotenoids, phenolic compounds, fibre and minerals, revealed Dr Bains.
Dr J.S. Mahal, Director Extension Education while proposing the vote of thanks, congratulated Vice Chancellor Dr B.S. Dhillon on being decorated with Padma Shri. Earlier, Dr S.S. Kukal, Dean, College of Agriculture welcomed the dignitaries and other participants. An exhibition was also put up by the different departments of the University
The workshop included two technical sessions where experts deliberated on horticultural practices for guava, citrus, mango, ber, peach, litch etc. The afternoon session included presentation on use of paddy straw for cultivation of speciality mushrooms in Punjab., lactic acid fermentation of fruits and vegetables, post harvest handling of fruits besides discussions on honey heating and filtration system, modified atmosphere storage of cucumber etc.