The New Zealand High Commission and Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Government of India deputed a four-member team to the university to explore feasible areas to target improvement and development of Kiwifruit production and associated value chain activities in North Western and North Eastern Himalayan region.
The team comprised Dr. Stephanie Montegomery, World Bank consultant for Australia and South East Asia, Daniel Black, Kiwifruit expert for the Northland region of New Zealand, Chirag Bhatia and Shiva Reddy, Consultant MIDH, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, GoI. The team along with Dr. Sanjeev Chauhan, Director of Research and Dr. DP Sharma, HOD Fruit Science of the university visited Kiwifruit orchards in Narag and Daron Dewria areas of District Sirmaur and Shamti in District Solan. The foreign experts and members of the ministry interacted with the farmers in their orchards and also demonstrated training and pruning techniques to the farmers being followed in New Zealand.
The team also visited the Kiwifruit experimental field of the Department of Fruit Science of the university, which is the first commercial orchard of Kiwifruit in the country planted in 1985. They also visited the nursery area and laboratories of the university. The field visits were followed by a meeting held under the chairmanship of Vice-Chancellor Professor Rajeshwar Singh Chandel to discuss the feasibility of exploring Kiwifruit as a diversification fruit crop for mid hills of the entire Himalayan region. In the meeting a presentation was made by both experts to explore the feasibility of cooperation between New Zealand and India. Dr. DP Sharma made a detailed presentation on the standardization of the Package of Practices (POP) of Kiwifruit and the strength of the university with respect to scientific manpower, published research papers, completed theses by MSc and PhD students on Kiwifruit, climatic data, field and laboratory infrastructure and progress made in nursery production being the pioneer institute for standardization of PoP of Kiwifruit cultivation in India.
The meeting was attended by Dr. MK Verma, Director of CITH, Dr. Sanjeev Chauhan, Director of Research, HoD's of different departments, subject experts and progressive farmers. The members were of the opinion that the university should be a Centre of Excellence for Kiwifruit in India.