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The wheat and barley research team from Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, has earned the prestigious Best All India Coordinated Research Project (AICRP) on Wheat and Barley Centre Award 2023 for their outstanding contributions to the field of agricultural research. This recognition was conferred during the 62nd All India Wheat and Barley Research Worker’s Meet organized by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) – Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley, Karnal, held at Maharana Partap University of Agriculture & Technology in Udaipur, Rajasthan, from August 28 to August 30, 2023.

The PAU team, led by Dr V S Sohu, the Head of the Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics at PAU, stood out among all ICAR institutes and Agricultural Universities in India. This marks a significant milestone as it is the first time that ICAR has introduced the Best Centre Award specifically for wheat and barley research in India.

Commending the PAU’s wheat and barley team, Dr Satbir Singh Gosal, Vice-Chancellor of PAU, revealed that over the past three years, the team has made substantial advancements in agricultural research. They have successfully developed and released 10 wheat varieties, five of which were approved by the Central Variety Release Committee and another five by the State Variety Release Committee. These varieties were meticulously designed to cater to specific niches and emphasize high nutritional quality, with notable examples being PBW Zinc 2 and PBW RS 1. Additionally, they introduced the hulless barley variety PL 891, specially cultivated for food purposes, Dr Gosal added.

Dr Ajmer Singh Dhatt, Director of research also congratulated the award recipients and informed that the team’s efforts extended to germplasm screening against diseases, insect pests, and nematodes, and the development of production and protection technology. Moreover, PAU has established collaborations with numerous national and international institutions, cementing its position as a key player in the agricultural research landscape. Dr Dhatt disclosed that PAU’s wheat and barley research team has been instrumental in contributing test entries to AICRP, thereby facilitating the sharing of elite breeding lines with other agricultural institutes, particularly those possessing major genes for disease resistance.

Dilating upon the impressive research output of the team, Dr V.S. Sohu, the team leader and Head, Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics reported over 50 publications in high-impact journals, including 20 with a National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS) rating ranging from 9.24 to 20. Their research has covered diverse areas such as biofortification, nitrogen use efficacy, wide hybridization, nutritional security, rust resistance, and terminal heat stress. Besides this, the PAU team has been actively engaging with farmers through various outreach programs, including Farmer’s Field Days, Kisan Melas, radio and TV broadcasts, as well as numerous field visits and crop surveys. Their commitment to trial conduction and budget utilization has yielded remarkable results.

Drs VS Sohu, Hari Ram, GS Mavi, Johar Singh, Jayesh Singh, Jaspal Kaur, Achla Sharma, Beant Singh, Ritu Bala, Lenika Kashyap, Puja Shrivastava, Simarjit kaur, Maninder Kaur and Satinder Singh are all members of the team.

Notably, Dr V S Sohu, Dr Hari Ram, and Dr Beant Singh, have also received awards and recognition from the Society for Advancement of Wheat and Barley, ICAR-Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley, Karnal, for their exceptional contributions to the field. Previously, the team members were honored with the Borlaug Global Rust Initiatives 2018 Gene Stewardship Award and the ICAR Chaudhary Devi Lal Outstanding AICRP 2011 for Best AICW&BIP center.

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