An institute and a museum dedicated to World Food Prize laureate Dr Gurdev Singh Khush (88), the legendary rice-breeder fondly known as “Father of Rice Revolution” and ‘Paddy Daddy’, was inaugurated at his alma-mater Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, Monday.
Dr Khush, the developer of world’s most grown rice varieties and having his roots in Rurkee village of Jalandhar, had graduated from PAU and later moved to the US as he went on to become world’s most successful rice-breeder. On Monday, he was in attendance as two new establishments- Gurdev Singh Khush Institute of Genetics, Plant Breeding and Biotechnology; and Gurdev Singh Khush Museum – were inaugurated in his name at the university.
Punjab agriculture and farmers welfare minister Gurmeet Singh Khuddian inaugurated the projects dedicated to Khush as a part of the events for the XXth Triennial Congress of International Association of Agricultural Museums (CIMA), that kickstarted at PAU, Monday, in collaboration with The Heritage Foundation.
Khuddian hailed Dr Khush for his unwavering commitment and hard work that have gone a long way in loading the godowns with food grains, wiping tears by shutting the doors for famine and bringing smiles with the rebirth of agriculture as well as humanity.
Dr Khush who was the guest of honor, while expressing gratitude for projects dedicated to him, said that this institute would focus on advanced sciences entailing genomics and biotechnology as well as the development of high-yielding and insect-pest and disease resistant crop varieties. About the museum, he stated that it would stimulate the younger generations for the years to come. Dwelling upon bajra like rice production, Dr Khush paid glowing tributes to a renowned agricultural biotechnologist Dr DS Brar who had a long association with the School of Agricultural Biotechnology at PAU.
Dr Satbir Singh Gosal, vice-chancellor, PAU, highlighted Dr Khush’s colossal contribution to the rice farming via the development of more than 300 rice varieties, being cultivated across the globe. “A PAU alumnus, Dr Khush’s academic brilliance and ground-breaking research have made him an iconic figure in the realm of rice breeding,” he added, while lauding his benevolence and philanthropic gesture of donating 35 million to PAU for bolstering research and teaching.
Dr DS Cheema, former dean, College of Agriculture, PAU, called it a historic day with the twin celebration of the establishment of Gurdev Singh Khush Institute and Museum at PAU, and World Food Day on October 16 across the world.
Dr JS Sandhu, professor, school of agricultural biotechnology, said that the rice varieties comprising IR 8, PR 106, IR 36 and IR 64 were the revolutionary varieties that brought in the Rice Revolution after the Wheat Revolution in the late 1960s. Dr Khush’s oldest role in the advancement of agricultural sciences speaks of his unswerving dedication, he added.
PAU’s Director of Research Dr AS Dhatt said: “Although he has spent his life abroad, yet his mind has always been absorbed in PAU. His vital contribution to plant breeding technologies is indeed laudable and an unparalleled feat.”
The new museum celebrates the success journey of Dr Khush who was born and brought up in Punjab; studied at PAU, Ludhiana and US; and served at the University of California, USA and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippines.
In addition to the prism of life, professional education and career profile, the museum features his research work and torrent of accolades bestowed upon this highly decorated scientist. The major attraction is the scientific applause for the ‘rice-man’ Dr Khush, in the words of Father of Green Revolution Dr Norman E Borlaug, “Dr Khush has done much to provide basic building block to millions of people throughout the world;” and Father of Green Revolution in India Dr MS Swaminathan who had said, “Dr Khush combines remarkable capacities in both theoretical and practical work.”
The museum also showcases Director General of IRRI Dr Ronald Cantrell’s encouraging words, “While Dr Khush’s name may have passed through the lips of many, his life’s work has passed through the lips of almost half of humanity.”