The Department of Agronomy, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, and the Farm Advisory Service Scheme (FASS), Sangrur, organised a convention on "Alternative cropping systems to rice-wheat in saving of irrigation water' at Majhi village near Bhawanigarh, under the leadership of Dr Mandeep Singh, district extension specialist, Sangrur, yesterday. Dr Nachhattar Singh Malhi, director, Extension Education, PAU, was the chief guest. Dr Malhi called upon the farmers to reduce area under paddy to save Punjab from becoming a desert. He stressed on timely transplanting of paddy and cultivation of varieties especially PAU-201 and PR-118 to check receding underground water table. He suggested sowing of water-saving crops like groundnut, Bt cotton and maize etc as their irrigation requirement was less compared to paddy. He also motivated farmers to launch village-wise campaign for the eradication of weeds so that mealy bug could not harm cotton crop during the next kharif season. Dr Krishan Kumar Vashist, senior agronomist, PAU, said central Punjab with 400-800 mm rainfall and coarse textured soils was not fit for paddy cultivation. The local population was not rice eating. The alternative cropping systems to rice-wheat, therefore, could play a great role in saving water by replacing the area under paddy, he added. ADC (Development) Harnek Singh laid emphasis on kitchen gardening model and adoption of subsidiary occupations by farmers to augment farm income. Presiding over the function, Dr U.S. Walia, head, Department of Agronomy, PAU, stressed on diversification by bringing more area under pulses and oilseeds. Dr A.S. Sohi, Dr Surjeet Singh, Dr G.S. Rattan, Dr T.S. Dhillon, and Dr Jagdish Grover, deputy director, Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), Kherri, also spoke. The FASS and the KVK held an exhibition for the farmers.