Tata trust increases fiscal support to Punjab agriculture

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Ludhiana, Jun 29: The Sir Ratan Tata Trust (SRTT) has extended its financial support to Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and State Department of Agriculture for the development of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) modules for rice, maize and vegetable crops.

The trust decided to extend the support after the success of the IPM programme launched in the cotton belt of the state in 2002 under the Revival of Green Revolution(RGR) programme.

Apart from the grant of over a dozen projects to PAU for RGR, the trust along with Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center (AVRDC), Taiwan has initiated an ambitious project worth Rs 5 crore for designing state-of-the-art and economical net-house design, alternate vegetable crop sequences and matching production technology for the year-round cultivation of vegetable crops and establishment of nutrition home gardens.

The recently established RGR cell of the trust, according to its Executive Director Dr G S Chahal, has now further identified innovative projects to improve the economy of small and marginal farmers.

The Project Approval Committee of the RGR Cell which met on this month has approved four new projects to the PAU to seek solution to critical issues like labour, water and profitable marketing.

In light of serious labour problem in paddy transplantation, the RGR cell has funded PAU for farmers' participatory exploratory project on direct seeded rice.

Dr Chahal said another project had been granted to demonstrate a practical model for fish culture in saline waters of the cotton belt. A special project had been granted to Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU) for pilot scale demonstration of already established and proven technology for improving the fertility through artificial insemination in cross bred dairy cattle and buffalo which was hardly 25 per cent as against expectation of over 70 per cent.

Dr Chahal said owing to lack of organised marketing in agriculture a project had been granted to PAU for development and demonstration of a model involving potential stakeholders like Self Held Groups (SHGs), farmers' cooperatives, linkage with private sector especially for groundnut, moong, gram and vegetable crops which held promise for diversification in agriculture.

In light of the lack of profitable marketing in all possible alternatives to rice and wheat, the RGR cell is hiring a programme officer for marketing and private sector development to find a strategy to minimise the middle man in agricultural marketing, Dr Chahal added.

UNI

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