hygiene. Investment in marketing linkages would be greatly facilitated by supporting changes in the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee Act which would allow private markets to develop," he pointed out.
The Prime Minister laid a lot of emphasis on the role of agricultural research, pointing out that it has "special significance for the country as a whole and for Punjab in particular."
"We aim to increase our expenditure on agriculture research to 1 per cent of agricultural GDP in the 12th Plan from the level of 0.65 per cent in the 11th Plan," he said.
He also said the 12th Plan has targeted for the country as a whole an average of 8.
2 percent growth in GDP and 4 percent growth in agriculture. "I hope Punjab will try to do better on both counts," he said.
Singh also laid stress on modern biotechnology, which enables identification and implantation of genes imparting resistance and tolerance to moisture and temperature extremes.
Biotechnology "can play a very important role in future," he said.
Speaking on the issue of BT technology, he said, "Safety concerns are often raised in the context of Bt technology, and these need to be addressed in a scientifically defensible manner.
"However, I am confident that all legitimate health security concerns can be met and we are working to put in place an improved regulatory framework that will allow our research scientists to push ahead in their endeavour to develop technologies that can deliver positive results for farmers," he said.
The Prime Minister asked PAU to gear up to help Punjab's agriculture sector meet the challenges of the future, and help the state scale new heights.
"The future is rarely a linear extrapolation of the past.
Circumstances change and new challenges arise.
It is, therefore, important to identify challenges of the future and start working now to meet them. It is evident that several stress points have emerged in Punjab's agriculture which need to be addressed," he said.
Singh said the sustainability of water use in agriculture has emerged as a major problem in Punjab. "Exploitation of ground water far exceeds the rate of recharge and is leading to steady decline in the water table. This is clearly not sustainable.
Similar problems exist in other parts of the country, but they are most severe in Punjab, where 80 per cent of the development blocks are now categorised as over-exploited.
"By addressing this problem, Punjab will once again prove to be a leader in this