The former agriculture commissioner of India and Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan awardee Dr Gurcharan Singh Kalkat died at PGIMER, Chandigarh, Saturday. He was 92. He was the founding chairman of Punjab State Farmers Commission. He was also the former vice-chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University (Ludhiana) from 1998-2001.
It was under Kalkat’s leadership as the director of agriculture, Punjab, and later as the agriculture commissioner of India, that the country witnessed ‘Green Revolution’ and India became self-sufficient in food grain production. He was also the former vice-chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University (Ludhiana) from 1988-2001.
Kalkat was the one who even ushered a soybean revolution and also introduced banana cultivation for Punjab. Dr Baldev Singh Dhillon, vice-chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University, said, “We know him for wheat and rice, but he always thought out of the box. He was not a normal wheat and rice scientist… He introduced soybean cultivation in Punjab, though it wasn’t commercially successful. Then he took soybean varieties from Punjab to Madhya Pradesh where they were immensely successful commercially as well. Despite sitting on political posts, he was never diplomatic, but always spoke his heart for benefit of farmers even if it was politically incorrect.”
Born in Hoshiarpur’s Sahora village, Kalkat undertook various international assignments, working as senior agriculturist with the World Bank. Posted at Washington DC, he worked for countries like Nigeria and Ghana.