The Punjab government on Monday asked US-based genetically modified seed developer Monsanto to set up research and development centre here to produce high-yielding hybrid seed varieties of maize crop.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal raised this demand during a delegation of the company led by Vice President, Global Vegetables and Asia Commercial, Consuelo E Madere called on him here, said an official release.

During the deliberations, the Monsanto CEO India Region D Narain apprised the Chief Minister that the company had developed heat tolerant hybrid maize varieties for the northern region especially Punjab.

He said the company had focused on developing maize varieties for the kharif season in order to provide a viable alternative to paddy in the state.

He also assured Badal that company would also make all out efforts to develop high yielding soya bean seeds in its endeavour to boost diversification of agriculture in the state.

Assuring all possible assistance to the company, the Chief Minister directed the Vice Chancellor (VC) Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) Ludhiana to provide technical data and logistic support to enable the company to produce quality hybrid seeds best suited to climatic conditions of the state.

Badal also constituted a high level committee headed by the Chairman of Punjab Farmers Commission Dr G S Kalkat with Financial Commissioner Development (FCD) GS Sandhu, Adviser to Agriculture Dr Balwinder Singh Sidhu and Director Agriculture Mangal Singh Sandhu as members.

The committee would work out the modalities for developing high yielding varieties and maize seed in tandem with the Monsanto company and help it to set up research cum seed testing centre at the earliest, release said.

The Committee has also been mandated to suggest self sustaining marketing mechanism to ensure hassle free marketing of maize to the farmers.

The Punjab government has planned to shift 4 lakh hectares to maize crop as part of state’s crop diversification plan under which it intends to reduce paddy area from 28 lakh hectare to 16 lakh hectares in next 6 years.

(This article was published on November 26, 2012)
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