While admitting that the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) had not set up enough agro-processing units in the state, university Vice-Chancellor Dr B S Dhillon on Monday, however, said that he did not ‘expect much from Union Minister of Food Processing Harsimrat Badal’, who is from Punjab. “I do not think that a Punjabi sitting in New Delhi should be biased towards Punjab and it won’t make much difference,” Dhillon, who completed three years of his tenure on Monday, said.
He added that although the number of processing units run by the university has increased from 1 in 2009-10 to 7 in 2013-14, the number was still behind optimum levels. His statements come in the wake of PAU having, last week, submitted a comprehensive note on Punjab’s food processing requirements to state government to be forwarded to the Union ministry. “We have apprised the government about Punjab’s processing needs. We have told them how badly we need processing of wheat, rice, maize, potatoes and tomatoes in the state. It is an effort to educate the policy makers at the Centre,” said Dr S S Gosal, director of research at PAU.
The varsity is also discussing with MARKFED for packing of sugarcane juice and Punjab Agro-Industries Corporation is in discussion for kinnow and guava processing. “Last year 4-5 projects for processing to Indian Council of Agricultural Research were not passed but with a change of guard, we are expecting approval,” said a senior PAU scientist. Dhillon added that PAU was lagging behind in patents as since 2009 it has got only one patent against 24 applied. Asked about employees’ salaries never arriving on time, he said, “Even I never get my salary on time. That is for state government to answer. Most government employees get late salaries but PAU employees crib the most.”
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Eucalyptus plantation in Muktsar’s waterlogged areas, haploid inducer in maize from CIMMYT Mexico, introduction of low-chill apple varieties, MoU with Gujarat Seed Corporation for Bt Cotton, research on hydroponics in veggies and flowers and establishment of separate basmati research unit are among V-C Dhillon’s major achievements in three years.