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Friday, September 9, 2011

Dr Mohan Kohli honoured in Paraguay for his wheat research…

“Kohli” is a well-known Khatri surname originating from Punjab; members of the Kohli clan are synonymous with wealth, prosperity, and social status that is very respectable in Indian society.  Mohan  is a common  Hindu name derived from Sanskrit meaning "delightful", "charming", or "attractive".

A search for Kohli is most likely to lead you to Virat Kohli, the Indian middle order batsman who captained the Indian U19 team to victory in 2008 and subsequently broke to National ranks.  Lesser known is Taruwar Sushil Kohli who also played for India U19 and in the IPL.  Have you heard of a more famous Kohli – a Doctor, a wheat specialist and a senior scientific consultant to the Paraguayan National Wheat Programme.  This Kohli is not just another laboratory scientist confined to the four walls and surrounded by scientific papers. He is a practical scientist with a pragmatic approach. He is passionate about agriculture.

He started off his career with the legendary Norman Borlaug ( Nobel prize winner who contributed to the Green revolution of India) in 1971 and worked with him for six years in Mexico. In 1978 he came to South America as a regional wheat breeder. Since then he has been working in the South American countries of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and Chile. He has worked in collaboration with the governments as well as the private sector agricultural organisations and associations. He has been awarded many honours by the governments and universities of Latin American countries.  Dr Kohli did his B.Sc in agriculture from the Rajasthan Agricultural University and Masters and PhD at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute. He did Post Doctoral work in the University of California and Oregon State University.

Wheat  is a grass now cultivated worldwide. Globally, wheat is the leading source of vegetable protein in human food, having a higher protein content than either maize (corn) or rice, the other major cereals. Wheat grain is a staple food used to make flour for leavened, flat and steamed breads, biscuits, cookies, cakes, breakfast cereal, pasta, noodles, and for fermentation to make beer, other alcoholic beverages.  Some varieties of wheat are
HI 1531, DBW 16, HD 2888, AKDW 2997-16and 
Barley RD
2660. During periods of drought certain varieties of wheat are suitable for rain fed crops in different regions of the country.  India is one of the main wheat producing and consuming countries of the world. After the Green Revolution in the 1970's and 1980's the production of wheat has shown a huge increase. The major States that are involved in the cultivation of wheat are those located in the plains like Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana. Wheat is a Rabi crop that is grown in the winter season. Sowing of wheat takes place in October to December and harvesting is done during the months of February and May. 

On May 18, 2011,  Dr. Kohli walked up the dais at San Carlos University in Asuncion to receive an Honorary Doctorate as a mark of gratitude from Paraguayans for transforming their country to a net wheat exporter.  A foreigner  being honoured in  a country of  his adoption itself is creditable, more creditable is that of Dr Mohan Kohli who has  got recognition for nearly four decades of unremitting research to step up wheat production in a wide swathe of Latin American countries, including Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and Chile.  He received Honorary Doctorate from the San Carlos University of Paraguay on 18 May in Asuncion. This is a recognition of the contribution of Dr Kohli in the last three decades to improvement of wheat cultivation and production. The Paraguayans expressed their gratitude to Dr Kohli who is credited with the transformation of Paraguay from a wheat importer till the eighties into a wheat exporter since 2004. The wheat production of Paraguay has increased from 30,000 tons in 1978 to 1.2 million tons now. In 2010 Paraguay earned 230 million dollars from wheat exports

Latin America has made use of Dr. Kohli's expertise for the last 39 years but he is not even well known in his own country !   He is exalted for the time he spends on the fields and laboratories.  He is known for his love of the company of small farmers and shares coffee in their homes; he is admired as a hero by the farmers of Paraguay and Argentina. He has earned the respect and admiration of the Latin Americans with his Indian humility, sincerity, brilliance and hard work.

Dr Kohli is committed to do his part to solve the global problem of poverty.  It is reported that  Dr Kohli made an inspiring presentation to Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar when he was in Buenos Aires in September 2010. He advocated No-Till ( Direct Seeding) Method of cultivation for India and showed how this method has revolutionised the agriculture of South America, which is emerging as a superpower in agriculture. He has given an Action Plan to Minister for implementation of No-Till cultivation method and other measures to improve productivity and sustainable cultivation in India.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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