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Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), in partnership with the Management Science Association, successfully hosted a prestigious International Symposium on Digital Transformation and Cybersecurity on October 20, 2023. This high-profile event at the revered Dr Manmohan Singh Auditorium convened a gathering of esteemed experts, scholars, and dignitaries from various fields. The symposium began with a traditional Shabad Gaayan and the ceremonial lighting of the lamp, invoking divine blessings for its success.

Dr Babita Kumar, a Professor at School of Business Studies (SBS), PAU, extended a warm welcome to the distinguished attendees, with a special mention of Dr Satbir Singh Gosal, Vice Chancellor of PAU, Ludhiana, who served as the Chief Patron of the symposium. Notable patrons included Dr Shammi Kapoor (Dean of the College of Basic Sciences and Humanities), Dr A.S. Dhatt (Director of Research), and Dr G.S. Buttar (Director of Extension Education).

Dr Kamaljeet Sandhu, the Keynote Speaker, a senior lecturer at the University of England, Australia, and founder/director of the Australia-India Hub for Cybersecurity and Digital Innovation, and Sr. Kahn Singh Pannu, an experienced IAS officer who has served as the Secretary of Agriculture, Government of Punjab, also graced the event. Mr Gurbinder Singh Bajwa, the General Secretary of the Young Innovative Farmers’ Group of Punjab, attended with his team. Cogneesol, the media partners of the symposium, and Mr Hunardeep Singh, Co-Founder and CEO of the company developer of the Apni Kheti App, were also present.

Dr Satbir Singh Gosal, in his address, emphasized the significance of digital transformation and called for a balanced and judicious use of digital technologies, cautioning against becoming overly reliant on them. Dr Kamaljeet Sandhu shed light on the importance of cybersecurity in the digital transformation era, highlighting the immense economic impact of cyber fraud on a global scale. He emphasized the transformative potential of the Internet of Things in shaping our lives and societal interactions.

Dr Pannu addressed vital agricultural issues, advocating for reduced water usage in rice production, direct onion sowing, changes in cotton sowing methods, cost-effective cotton picking, reduced pesticide and fertilizer use, organic farming certification, and robust cooperative systems in agriculture for sustainability. Mr Bal Mukand Sharma, Digital MD of Markfed, discussed agri-marketing, international trade, and the need for improved processing technology in agriculture while stressing the need for innovative collaborations.

Mr Hunardeep Singh Brar initiated the Apni Kheti, creating an app that connects 4.5 lakh farmers to the PAU hub, where they interact daily and seek expert advice. To date, they have developed 200 free websites for farmers. Dr Amrik Singh emphasized the importance of adopting low-cost technologies, like social media applications on mobile phones, to deliver agricultural information to farmers, particularly in a rapidly changing agricultural landscape.

After lunch, Session II commenced with the sharing of the vision of Agripreneurship by Dr Ramandeep Singh, Professor-cum-Director, SBS, PAU and emphasized the value of curiosity, creativity, and innovation. He also promoted the idea of social entrepreneurship, where individuals work for the betterment of society. Dr Singh underlined the importance of knowledge, self-motivation, and transforming farmers into agribusiness leaders who understand every facet of the system. He discussed innovative agri-practices and products, highlighted the significance of social media and networking for agripreneurs, and reiterated that there are no shortcuts to success.

Mr Gurinderjeet Singh Hara spoke on digital transformation in farming, emphasizing the custom hiring of farm equipment, its challenges, and solutions. He delved into cutting-edge technologies, such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, blockchain, AR/VR, big data analytics, and RPA, as integral components of the future of farming.

Mr Harpreet Singh, from the Young India Farmer Group, stressed the need for solid marketing teams to promote processed and semi-processed food and highlighted the importance of affordable access to water and electricity for successful food processing.

To engage students and raise awareness, 15 articles were prepared by PhD students, each exploring aspects of digital transformation and cybersecurity. The top three articles were recognized with certificates of appreciation and trophies.

The symposium concluded with a vote of thanks by Dr. Ramandeep Singh.

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