About 300 scientists from across India and abroad discussed the ways and means of increasing the area, production, productivity and nutritional content of wheat and barley at the three-day Annual Group Meeting of the All India Coordinated Research Project on Wheat and Barley organized at Birsa Agricultural University (BAU) in Ranchi, India, from August 24 to 26.
The event was jointly organized by the Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research (IIWBR), Karnal, and BAU and included representatives from almost all the states, India’s agricultural universities, and five international research institutes.
The meet was formally inaugurated on August 25 by Governor Droupadi Murmu while Dr. Trilochan Mohapatra, Secretary, Dept of Agricultural Research & Education, GoI and Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi, chaired the meet.
According to BAU Vice Chancellor Dr. Parvinder Kaushal, wheat research scientists are the second largest group of research scientists in India’s national agricultural research system in India after that of rice. In Jharkhand, wheat is grown on an area of 2.21 lakh hectare with average productivity of 2.13 tons per hectare as compared to a national average of 3.17 tons per hectare. Wheat productivity in the State has to be increased to about 5 ton per hectare, thereby doubling farmers’ income by 2022.
Of the total 28 lakh hectare cultivable land of Jharkhand, about 14.6 lakh hectare remains without any use after the harvest of rice.
Efforts are underway to bring this land under wheat coverage on residual moisture by short-duration, drought-tolerant varieties like Birsa Gehun-3 of BAU, K-9107 of Kanpur, PBW-343 of Punjab and HD-2967 of Haryana. Cropping intensity in Jharkhand is hardly 125 percent as compared to the national average of 150 percent. Punjab averages 193 percent and Haryana averages188 percent, according to Kaushal. Lack of assured irrigation is the main limiting factor, he held.
He also stressed the need to include barley in food habits because barley has a higher fiber and protein content than other cereals.
The present area of barley in Jharkhand is nearly 3000 hectares because of the lack of awareness about its importance among farmers. Since barley can be grown on single irrigation only, there is vast scope for expansion in this state.
A-300 variety of barley is most suitable for this region, he said. The VC stressed that one kg of red gram, barley, soybean, ragi and jwar/ bajra each should be mixed with wheat for daily domestic use of flour to ensure enhanced nutrition.
During the meeting, deliberations were held in five technical sessions on principal investigators’ report-research presentation, research planning, finalization of work plans and recommendations, research progress on northeastern plain zone, international linkages, status reports from states and farmers’ views on R&D.
The session on international linkages included the participation of Dr. Ravi Prakash Singh, Dr. Govindan Velu and Dr. Pawan K Singh from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), Mexico; Dr. Ronnie Coffman, Vice Chairman, Borlaug Global Rust Initiative, Cornell University, New York; Dr. Ashutosh Sarker and Dr. RPS Verma, International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Lebanon; Dr. PK Joshi, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington DC; Dr Baidya Nath Mahto, Executive Director, Nepal Agricultural Research Council, Kathmandu; and Dr Legjay from Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Bhutan.