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Laying foundations to create productive and sustainable cropping systems in Asia

The third offering of the advance course-Asia “Conservation Agriculture: Gateway for Productive and Sustainable Cropping Systems” began at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, India, on 28 May 2012. The advanced, two-week course (May 28-June 9) was organized jointly by CIMMYT, the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) Punjab Hub, and PAU. Participants came from backgrounds in agronomy, soil science, engineering, plant breeding, and plant pathology, and included representatives from Iran, Afghanistan, China, Bangladesh, and India.

While inaugurating the course, H.S. Sidhu, Senior Agriculture Engineer, Borlaug Institute for South Asia (BISA), Ludhiana, welcomed the participants and dignitaries and participants. The chief guest of the inaugural function, Baldev Singh Dhillon, Vice-Chancellor, PAU, emphasized India’s recent growth. “India’s agricultural production reached 253 million tons in 2011,” he said, adding that cropping intensity has risen from 126 percent in 1996 to nearly 190 percent at present. He urged the scientific community to continue with “development based research,” focusing on conservation agriculture and the improvement of livelihoods in farming communities. ML Jat, CIMMYT Senior Cropping Systems Agronomist and Course Coordinator, said that provision of food security has become the priority of policy makers. “We must consider the conservation of natural resources as an imperative and unavoidable act,” he urged.

INDIA25Focusing on the contemporary agricultural situation in Asia, the course dealt with theory and practices to address key issues such as over-exploitation of natural resources, depleting underground water tables, multi-nutrient deficiencies in crops, soil health degradation, climate change, crop residue burning by farmers etc. It aimed to develop enhanced knowledge and transfer skills on various resource conservation themes, such as the principles of conservation agriculture (CA), application of various tools, techniques and CA implements for diverse production systems, component technologies like genotype tillage, irrigation water management, nutrient management, weed control, crop residue management etc. The course emphasized field training (Hands on) on precision land levelling, calibration and operation of CA machinery (small and large), spray techniques, and planting protocols for different establishment systems. Field visits allowed interactions with machinery manufacturers, cooperative institutions, and farmers. It is hoped that technological innovations in the farming sector and their proper dissemination to the farming community will address food security needs.

Organizers would like to thank the following people for their valuable contributions: Jaskaran S. Mahal, SS Kukal, Varinder Pal, GS Buttar (PAU), Rajvir Yadav (IARI), H.S. Siddhu & Raj Gupta (BISA), Ken Sayre, Mahesh Gathala, Petr Kosina, Yadvinder Singh, Surabhi Mittal (CIMMYT) R.K. Malik, BR Kamboj, Virender Kumar (CSISA), , and other staff of PAU, CIMMYT, BISA and CSISA.