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In a remarkable feat, the All India Coordinated Research Project (Honey Bees & Pollinators) at the Punjab Agricultural University Ludhiana Centre has been bestowed with the prestigious ‘Best Research Centre’ Award by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi. This accolade catapults PAU to the forefront of apicultural research, surpassing 26 research centres nationwide. The recognition came as a tribute to the exceptional contributions made by PAU’s Apiculture Team during the Annual Group Meeting of the ICAR-AICRP, held from September 4 to 6, 2023, at the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bengaluru.

Dr. Satbir Singh Gosal, Vice-Chancellor of PAU, extended congratulations to the Department of Entomology, particularly the Apiculture Team, for achieving this significant national-level recognition. He underlined that PAU’s noteworthy achievement of winning the ‘Best Research Centre’ award for the third time in the last four AICRP (HB&P) workshops indicates its pivotal role in advancing apicultural research. Notably, PAU had previously secured the same distinction in September 2022 during the ICAR’s Annual Review of the AICRP on Honey Bees & Pollinators held at SKUAST, Jammu.

Dr. Ajmer Singh Dhatt, PAU’s Director of Research, also commended the Apiculture scientists for their outstanding achievement in receiving the coveted award.

Dr. D.K. Sharma, Head, Department of Entomology, illuminated the crucial roles played by several key figures from PAU who participated in the ICAR’s Annual Review programme. These include Dr. Pardeep Kumar Chhuneja, Dean, Postgraduate Studies; Dr. Jaspal Singh, Principal Entomologist; and Dr. Amit Choudhary, Scientist, all of whom contributed significantly to the project’s success. Dr. Chhuneja leads as the In-Charge of the Apiculture Unit, while Dr. Jaspal Singh is the Principal Investigator (PI) of the project. Dr. Amit Choudhary serves as the Co-PI, and Dr. Bharathi Mohindru is a scientist associated with the project.

Dr. Sharma not only congratulated the Apiculture Team but also underscored that PAU has been a trailblazer in apiculture, guiding the state to produce an astounding 18,500 MT of honey during the 2021-22 season.

Dr. Chhuneja, shedding light on PAU’s key role, emphasized the successful introduction of the Italian honey bee (Apis mellifera) into India between 1962 and 1964. This groundbreaking endeavour was followed by its multiplication and subsequent release to farmers in 1976. PAU’s nationwide dissemination and outreach programmes in apiculture have played a central role in catalyzing the commercialization and industrialization of apiculture at a national scale.

Remarkably, PAU has received prestigious recognitions from ICAR in the past, including the ‘Team of Excellence in Apiculture’ award in 1998 and the ‘Integrated Beekeeping Development Centre/Centre of Excellence’ award in 2017 from the National Bee Board. In 2017, the Department of Posts, India, paid homage to PAU’s outstanding contributions to apiculture research and development at the national level by releasing a special postal cover.

Dr. Jaspal Singh, acknowledging this latest honour, attributed it to the unwavering support and mentorship provided by both the University and ICAR-AICRP(HB&P), as well as the dedicated efforts of fellow scientists and support staff.

Furthermore, Dr. P.K. Chhuneja received special recognition from ICAR at the same event in Bengaluru. He was invited by ICAR to serve as an External Expert at this prestigious national event. Dr. Chhuneja’s expertise has also earned him a place on ICAR’s Project Advisory and Monitoring Committee (PAMC). Last year, he was celebrated by ICAR for his outstanding contributions to apiculture at the national level during the Annual Meet of the AICRP at SKUAST, Jammu. Dr. Chhuneja also received an Appreciation Letter from ICAR. Additionally, the Director-General of ICAR, in his capacity as Chairperson of the Food and Agriculture Division Council, extended Dr. Chhuneja’s tenure as Chairperson for FAD3 (Apiary Industry Sectional Committee) for three more years. Dr. Chhuneja’s contributions have been vital as he had also served as a member of ICAR’s QRT for the AICRP on Honey Bees and Pollinators.

This accolade reaffirms PAU’s commitment to advancing apicultural research and denotes its dominant role in promoting the beekeeping industry in India.

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