Jun 05, 2020
Top from left to right: Dr. Arjan Josan, Parshaura Dhillon and Dr. Scott Moore and bottom from left to right: Dr. Dennis Nef, Dr. Joseph I. Castro, Choranjit Batth and Dr. Gary Chahil sign an agreement to formalize a relationship with Fresno State and Punjab Agriculture University in Ludhiana, India, in an effort to share research and learn from each other in common areas of agricultural issues in the Smittcamp Alumni House on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. (Larry Valenzuela/ The Collegian)

Fresno State collaborates with Punjab university, address ag issues

Fresno State and Punjab Agriculture University in Ludhiana, India, signed an agreement to formalize their relationship on Tuesday in an effort to share research and learn from each other in common areas of agricultural issues. 

A ceremony followed by a reception took place at 6 p.m. at the Smittcamp Alumni House, where Fresno State President Dr. Joseph I. Castro signed a memorandum of understanding in front of campus officials, international students from India and representatives from the Sikh community. 

“Fresno State’s prominence in the Central Valley — the world’s most productive agricultural region — will be further strengthened by this bold, new partnership with Punjab Agricultural University,” Castro said in a university news release. “We are deeply appreciative of the close relations we enjoy with our local Sikh community, including leaders in business and agriculture who are Fresno State alumni and friends.”

Some of the agricultural issues that will be shared include water management, irrigation technology, ag mechanization and the improvement of high-value crops.

Chaitanya Muraka, an international graduate student from south India and a plant science major, expressed her interest in agriculture and her experience at Fresno State. 

“I’m really happy that Fresno State is doing this. Here there are more opportunities,” Muraka said. “From India, generally, most graduates come from computer science, computer engineering and not so many students come from agriculture background.” 

This collaboration between Fresno State and Punjab Agricultural University has been several years in the making, according to the release. 

“Punjab Agricultural University is committed to forging ties with strong national and international universities for developing quality research collaborations like this one with Fresno State,” said Dr. Baldev Singh Dhillon, vice chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University in the release. 

A Fresno State delegation consisting of Dr. Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, Fresno State’s provost and vice president for Academic Affairs; Dr. Scott Moore, dean of the Division of Continuing and Global Education and Dr. Dennis Nef, dean of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, will travel to India in December for the Progressive Punjab Investors’ Summit.

Fresno State is home to the 1,000-acre University Farm Laboratory, which features 22 enterprises that include wine, table and raisin grape vineyards, vegetable and field crops, fruit and nut trees and dairy, beef, pork, poultry, sheep and horticulture units.

“I am confident this partnership with Punjab Agricultural University will be of great benefit to both of our institutions,” said Jimenez-Sandoval in the release. “Our regions share many environmental challenges. This union opens the door to unprecedented opportunities to join forces and collaborate on pursuing transformational solutions.”

Muraka has been at Fresno State since spring of 2018 and said it’s a great opportunity for more Indians to come to Fresno State and explore the program. 

“After coming to Fresno State, it’s [been] a really good experience, I’ve learned so many things,” Muraka said.

Karthik Anand Shivakumar, an industry technology major at Fresno State and president of the Indian Student Club, has been at Fresno State for two years. 

“Back in India, we have good colleges, like the Punjab University of Agriculture. But still, the technology they use is way less. Here it’s really powerful, they’re having modified plants with agriculture,” Shivakumar said.

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