Rawalpindi  - A 15-day training workshop on hydroponic agriculture (soilless farming) commenced on Thursday at Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi (PMAS-AAUR). The workshop was arranged under the project titled as ‘Testing Indigenous Hydroponic Greenhouse for Vegetable Growing’ funded by Agriculture Department, Punjab.

PMAS-AAUR Vice Chancellor (VC) Prof Dr Rai Niaz Ahmad was the chief guest at the inaugural session of the workshop that was also attended by deans, directors, faculty members and farmers.

It is the 3rd training workshop out of total eight that would be held within next two years to train 200 farmers on the hydroponic farming so that they would be able to make experiments in their native areas besides imparting training to others. Farmers and in-service personnel from different locations and socio-economic backgrounds have been selected to train as master trainers of hydroponic agriculture.

The training would focus on greenhouse erection, crop sowing, crop management and harvesting of fruit.

Prof Dr Rai Niaz Ahmad said that first indigenous hydroponics system was developed and tested at PMAS-AAUR in 2014-2015 after which indigenous hydroponics replicas was constructed with different cladding systems, different growing media and media carriers.  Now this indigenous hydroponics system is also serving as capacity building centre, to facilitate research activities in the field of hydroponics, he added.

VC said that PMAS-AAUR has established a full-fledge Institute of Hydroponic Agriculture (IHA) catering to the needs of training, R&D, indigenization of equipment and spares to make the hydroponic technology sustainable in the country.

He also informed the gathering that this institute would help arrange training programmes for farmers, students and in-service staff to increase and diversify fruit and vegetables production technology, adding,  “It will also prepare models for hydroponics vegetables for kitchen gardening.”

Keeping in view this entire scenario, PMAS-AAUR is establishing 12 indigenous hydroponics units under the project. The project comprises of establishment of six hydroponic greenhouses at different institutions aiming at Training of Trainers (ToT) while six greenhouses at farmers’ premises in various districts of Punjab focusing on “Seeing is Believing for the extension of this technology.