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Chandigarh, (Gurpreet) Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Thursday thanked the Government of India for awarding a Centre of Excellence (CoE) project 'Development and Integration of Advanced Genomic Technologies for Targeted Breeding' to Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), the country's premier Agriculture University.

Describing the CoE project sanctioned by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), GoI to PAU as catalyst to bring swift crop diversification, Bhagwant Mann said that this state-of-the-art research institution would also be instrumental in ensuring development and integration of advanced genomic technologies in crop breeding programmes for promoting crop diversification, increasing productivity of the target crops and farmer's profitability across the state.

It may be recalled that DBT has provided grant of Rs. 27.91 crores for a period of five years for strengthening of infrastructure, research activities for cutting edge research in agricultural biotechnology, human resource, travel, conducting advanced trainings and workshops for capacity building.

Pointing out further, Bhagwant Mann said that this research project would also lead to the development of crop varieties with better yield potential, tolerance to emerging diseases, enhanced nutritional quality for attaining food and nutritional security.

Notably, wheat and rice have brought a major shift in the cropping system and as a result area under other crops has reduced significantly particularly in Punjab. This rotation has resulted in over exploitation of water, increased use of fertilizers and degradation of soil health. There is a strong need to strengthen research activities on pulses, oilseeds, vegetables and fruit crops and revisit our priorities for providing economically viable alternatives to the farmers.

Meanwhile, Additional Chief Secretary and Vice Chancellor, PAU D K Tiwari congratulated the CoE team for this great achievement. He further said that PAU scientists have big challenges ahead however, their devotion and commitment will lead to successful outcomes which will give Punjab Agriculture University a new direction.

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