L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Dr Basal for more research on maize hybrids
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 10
Dr S K Basal is among the select band of six Indians who have, so far, received the World Food Prize for their contributions to agricultural research and development. This award is considered equivalent to the Nobel Prize, as there is no Nobel for agriculture. The other recipients are Dr M.S. Swaminathan, Dr G.S. Khush, Dr B.R. Barwal, Dr V. Kurien and Dr D. Gupta.

Dr Basal is a Punjabi born and brought up in Amritsar. He received the coveted World Food Prize for his work on “quality protein maize” in 2000. An international authority on maize, he was on a visit to Punjab Agricultural University recently, where he spent most of his time visiting the experimental area and in discussions with maize breeders and the Director of Research, Dr B.S. Dhillon. In his interaction with PAU scientists and plant breeders, Dr Basal suggested that future research on maize hybrids should be “more focused”. Accomplishing more from less, collecting quality germplasm and excellence should be the aim.

Dr Basal graduated in agriculture from Khalsa College Amritsar, did his M.Sc. from Kanpur and Ph.D from IARI, New Delhi. Having worked at Solan in Himachal Pradesh, as maize breeder in mid-60s, he went to CIMMYT: international maize and wheat improvement centre, Mexico in 1970. There he worked on maize and later spent two years in Thailand on Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship.

He is a consultant with the Sasakwa African Association. Dr Basal is also a member of the rice project committee of the National Agricultural Improvement Project, ICAR. Maize is his first love and he travels the world at his own expense. He lives in Mexico.

In term of annual returns and yield per unit of land, maize either sizes up to rice and wheat or fetches more. It is grown worldwide as foodgrain; it is a staple diet of the people in at least 22 countries. Globally, maize occupies nearly 140 million hectares with a yield of 600 million tonnes. America is the largest grower of maize or corn, where it is sown on 30 million hectares, followed by China with 26 million hectares. The per hectare yield difference between the two countries is nearly double: in the US it is 8 tonnes and in China 4.9 tonnes.

At least 65 per cent to 68 per cent of the total maize produced is used as “animal feed”. Only around 10 per cent goes into industrial processing. In India, endeavours of plant breeders are to achieve a breakthrough in maize hybrids and produce seed on a mass scale. Countrywide, maize is sown on 7.4 million hectares with a yield of 14.4 million tonnes. In Punjab, maize grows on 1.5 lakh hectares and production is 4 lakh tonnes. In fact, among others, a major limiting factor why maize has not caught the fancy of farmers is unavailability of seed, uncertain market and unattractive price.

Dr Basal said apart from developing “specialty” maize — seed corn — sweet corn and baby corn, efforts should be made to produce breeder seeds and find small-time companies to produce and multiply maize. Also, assured procurement and price is important to promote maize cultivation. Equally important is value addition through processing — ethanol is a major byproduct. Since maize is a less water-consuming crop compared to paddy, its adoption will be easier, provided there is government policy support and hybrid seed becomes easily available.

In his meeting with the Vice-Chancellor, Dr K S Aulakh, the two agreed on the need to remove limiting barriers on the way of wider cultivation of maize, if it were to become an effective alternative to paddy.



Agro Tech from December 1
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 10
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) today announced that the Netherlands would be the international partner at Agro Tech 2006, a biennial agro technology fair, to be held from December 1 to 4 in Chandigarh.

“The Netherlands is among the world’s top exporters of agricultural products and also a leading global exporter of technical know-how in agriculture and one of the biggest investors in agri-business around the world. Farmers of the region will benefit tremendously from this partnership and can look forward to getting exposure to Dutch expertise in innovative cropping systems, floriculture, dairy, poultry, fishery, quality systems, logistics and chain management, cost reduction systems etc at Agro Tech 2006,” a press note said.

Mr Arnold Parzer, counsellor for agriculture, nature and food quality, the Royal Netherlands Embassy, said: “We have much to offer as an international partner in agribusiness. Our farmers and businesses are always looking forward to sharing their expertise with local farmers so that the best quality crops can be grown in favourable weather conditions. For example, our farmers have developed expertise in growing the best quality Irish potatoes in different weather and soil conditions. Irish potatoes are grown in a number of countries now, under the guidance of our farmers, and internationally sold at remunerative prices, thanks to our excellent infrastructure and high quality business and financial services. Visitors at Agro Tech 2006 will be able to see for themselves how they can benefit from partnering with our farmers.”

“In floriculture, our farmers have built up a formidable reputation. We have now become the worlds largest trading centre for flowers which are grown at various locations around the world,” he added.



Procurement to prolong this year
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 10
The paddy procurement season is likely to prolong this year. This is mainly due to the late sowing of paddy following a sustained campaign in this regard by Punjab Agricultural University and the supply of electricity to farmers from June 10 onwards.

The figures available with The Tribune suggest the likelihood of relatively much longer procurement period. Till October 9, 2.24 lakh metric tonnes of paddy has been procured in this district. Last year, 2.91 lakh metric tonnes had been procured so far, thus making it 23 per cent less procurement this year.

The procurement started this year from September 25 against October 1 last year. Moreover, the procurement had been delayed last year due to the fixing of specification norms which was settled on October 6.



Unemployed teachers seek more posts
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, October 10
Unemployed B.Ed teachers with the subject combination of English and social sciences have urged the authorities in the state Education Department to ensure that appropriate number of posts of teacher in the said groups were allocated during the process scheduled to start shortly as announced recently.

Those having completed their education according to the old system have further demanded that different criteria should be adopted while preparing merit lists as the present system fetched more marks to students in comparison to the previous one.

Leading a group of unemployed social sciences teachers, Ms Sarita Joshi, a resident of the police station road area, here alleged the department had been ignoring unemployed B.Ed teachers who had taken up social sciences and English as main subjects of teaching. “Despite a large number of vacancies in the stream, the authorities had not included posts in the lists advertised a few months ago.

If similar trend is repeated during the process to be initiated shortly, the future of thousands of unemployed teachers, including those who had completed their education more than 10 years ago, would be spoiled for ever,” said Ms Joshi apprehending that posts if advertised would include negligible number of vacancies in the subject.

The teachers demanded that separate criteria should be adopted for preparing the merit list for candidates having completed education according to the old and present systems. “Observations have revealed that students doing graduation according to the present system of education have been securing more marks than those with similar caliber but having obtained degrees according to the old system,” argued Ms Neena, another aspirant.

Teachers said that 2000 posts for various categories had been advertised a few months ago but none of them for social sciences and English combination. The government has now declared that the process for filling 6000 posts of teacher would be initiated shortly. 



From Colleges
DIMT students visit Oswal mill
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 10
Students of the Doraha Institute of Management and Technology (DIMT) visited Oswal Cotton Spinning here today.

Dr R.K. Lekhi, Director, DIMT, in a press statement today said that MBA students were addressed by Mr V.K.Chhabra, GM, OSML. He apprised the students of the latest business trends.

Mr Rustogi, president of Oswal Mills, interacted with faculty members and the students.

NCC camp ends

The closing ceremony function of the annual training camp of 3 Punjab girls Bn NCC, Ludhiana, was held at Khalsa College for Women, Civil Lines.

More than 600 cadets from 18 institutions participated.

Col SS Deol, camp Commandant, briefed the audience above various activities conducted during the camp like drill, weapon training, map reading, service subjects, medical, signal and firing.

Dr S.S. Grewal, Vice-President, Khalsa College, gave away the prizes to cultural competition winners and Col S.K. Varni, NCC Group Commander, Ludhiana, distributed medals.



Career opportunities in foreign languages discussed
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, October 10
Under the guidelines of the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) Punjab, Chandigarh, a seminar was organised for educational and vocational guidance counsellors of Ludhiana under the patronage of Ms Gurdeep Kaur, Principal, Government In-service Training Centre.

In the seminar, attended by 53 teachers, an English language export and resource person, Prof Baldev Singh of the DIET, Jagraon, delivered a lecturer on “Career opportunities for English and other foreign languages professionals.”

He said by receiving higher education in foreign languages like English, French, Spanish, Arabic, German and Russian, one could get a variety of employment opportunities. Of these, teaching was easily available and most popular, besides being taken as interpreters in foreign embassies and immigration centres.

The seminar was coordinated by Ms Surinder Kaur of the GITC, Mr Surinder Singh Daudhar, vocational Guidance Officer, District Education office, Ludhiana, and Mr P.P. Singh of Raikot.



Remembering an old teacher
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 10
A former INA sepoy, Buta Singh (92), is a living legend for his students. He joined Khalsa High School, Mehna, Moga district, as a physical instructor.

It was during his days as a teacher that he won the hearts of his students, who still revere him and look up to him for inspiration.

One of his students, PAU’s Director of Extension Education S.S. Gill remembers learning at the feet of Mr Buta Singh. Dr Gill went to his village on Sunday to pay his respect to Mr Buta Singh for what he has done for the youth.

The only message Mr Buta Singh has is “extinguish the fire of hatred and light the lamp of love for the betterment of humanity.” He still recites gurbani.

He blessed a small group of students accompanying Dr Gill and prayed to God to give them “wisdom, compassion and instill in them patriotism and nationalism.”

A retired DGP, Mr D.R. Bhatti, a former PSEB Chief Engineer, Mr M.S.Gill, and a Naval officer Daljit Singh.



PU youth fest on Oct 16
Our Correspondent

Raikot, October 10
The four-day zonal youth festival of Panjab University would commence at Swami Ganga Giri College for Women here on October 16.

According to Dr Savita Uppal, Principal and chief organiser of the event, said more than 500 girls from various colleges in the Moga-Ferozepore Zone would exhibit their talent during the mega festival scheduled to be inaugurated by Mr Rakesh Pandey, Minister for Horticulture, Science and Technology.

Dr Uppal claimed that all preparations for the event had been completed. Besides traditional cultural items debates, folk songs and dances, she added. 



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