While the first food revolution revolved round wheat and the second, rice, the third such global upheaval will centre around maize, said Dr Thomas Lumpkin, director general of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) in Mexico. “Maize produces ethanol, which can be used in more than 10 products apart from feeding the hungry. India lags behind this crop and they really need to work on it,” Lumpkin, who was in PAU for the golden jubilee celebrations on Tuesday, said.
The scientist added that Punjab’s contribution in paddy has come at a major cost. “Depleting water table, labour cost, soil degradation, fuel are enough signals to change the paddy -wheat cycle,” Lumpkin said with respect to Punjab. The major challenge is to produce more food with less and less water, he added.
Impressed by Lumpkin’s explanation, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said: “Our state is also thinking of diversifying area under paddy, so let it be maize provided the Centre ensures a proper price support for the crop.”
Meanwhile, director general of the International Rice Research Institute in Philippines, Dr R A Zeigler, lauded PAU and said the university has served farmers well in the last five decades.
He, however, urged PAU to focus on research.
Dr S Ayyappan, director general, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) credited PAU’s efforts for Punjab being designated as the “food basket and food bowl of India”.