Raj Gupta graduated from Government Agriculture College, Kanpur, and earned his PhD (Soil Science) from UPAU/ GBPUA&T, Pantnagar (1974). He worked at Harayana Agricultural University before joining the Central Soil Salinity Research Institute (CSSRI) in 1975. He led an All-India Coordinated Research Project (AICRP) on the use of low quality irrigation water (1988-94). For a short while, he was with the University of California, Davis, to work with Professor Kenneth Tanji. He took over as Assistant Director General in ICAR (1995) and later worked as National Coordinator for the National Agriculture Technology Project (NATP). In 2000, he joined as Facilitator of the Rice-Wheat Consortium convened by International Centre for Maize and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT, Mexico). In early 2007, he joined International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dryland Areas (ICARDA, Tashkent) to lead sustainable land management research in Central Asia.
Academic and Research Achievements: At CSSRI, Gupta initiated ion exchange-calcite equilibria studies to establish quantitative sodicity (ESP)-pH relationship vis-a-vis its effect on nutrient sorption and release, gypsum solubility and water requirement for land reclamation. These studies led to a better understanding of the physical and chemical behavior of alkali soils and paved the way for development of efficient land reclamation and fertilizer use practices. Multi-location studies conducted under AICRP on use of low quality waters led to the development of irrigation-water-quality standards and management practices for different soils, agro-climatic and cropping systems under monsoonal conditions. Dorouv Technology for skimming fresh quality water from saline aquifers in coastal sandy soils was developed to create additional irrigation potential. Mapping of ground water quality for irrigation in India (1: 5 million scale) was an important milestone. Professor Gupta was instrumental for the development and refinements of new prototypes for no-till planted crops and innovations on direct dry seeded rice.
Other Contributions: Dr Gupta was a core member of a team for planning and implementation of the prestigious NATP of ICAR. He took over the leadership of the eco-regional Rice-Wheat Consortium convened by CIMMYT, Mexico, to develop and promote conservation agriculture practices for irrigated production systems. In recognition of his contributions, the Consortium won the CGIAR Chair Excellence in Scientific Partnership Award of 2000, and the King Baudouin Award, 2004.
Awards and Honours: Dr Gupta has received the VASVIK Award (1996), NARC Award, Nepal - ICRISAT Silver Jubilee Award (2002) and the Commendation Plaque from CIMMYT-RWC (2007). He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, New Delhi (NAAS) and National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad.