The state government’s move to set up a separate horticulture university has caused resentment among the research and teaching staff of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU).Rakesh Sharda, senior professor, said the move was ill-advised as it would damage the well-established structure of PAU. “While efforts are being made to bring various disciplines under one roof for better research in the farm sector, the government is doing the opposite. It should not dilute the existing character of PAU,” he said.This will be the second bifurcation of PAU. Earlier, a separate university for veterinary and animal sciences was set up. Apart from the Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI), PAU is the only educational institute in the country that figures among the top 300 institutes associated with agriculture and allied activities in the world. However, its dilution owing to repeated bifurcation will affect its ranking.When PAU was set up in 1960s, it had three wings — field crops, animal sciences and horticulture. PAU officials say with the existing public sector universities in Punjab starved of funds, there is no logic of setting up another university, especially for horticulture. Besides only 3 lakh hectares of land, which is only 4 per cent of the total land meant for farming, is under fruit crops and pulses.The officials say field and horticulture crops are the two integrated components of crop husbandry. The need of the hour is to strengthen PAU by sanctioning liberal funds for developing new varieties of crops. There is a department of fruit science, vegetable science, floriculture, and landscaping and post-harvest technology. A centre of excellence for horticulture crops could be set up on the campus.While the government is prepared to set up a horticulture university, it is yet to establish the Postgraduate Institute of Horticulture Research and Education for which PAU has already given 150 acres of land in Attari and Abohar. The entire money for setting up of this institute is to be given by the Centre.The state is to allot 10-12 acre of land free of cost for the institute near Amritsar. The project was announced by the Union Government in the Budget for 2015-16. However, the state government is yet to seize the opportunity.
Not everybody is happy in India about new horticulture university