Prof. Velchala Praveen Rao is the founding Vice Chancellor of Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University (PJTSAU), Hyderabad, Telangana. Prof. Rao has made valuable contributions in the field of agriculture as a teacher, researcher and an able administrator. He was also instrumental in shaping the Telangana State farm policies and action programmes. His contributions in the field of microirrigation, fertigation and crop water modelling are globally recognized. This background enabled him to provide a vision and direction to the University Education, Research and Extension activities to synchronize with path-breaking agricultural reforms, rapidly expanding water resources and irrigation potential created by the State. Prof. Rao has provided exemplary leadership in taking the University to new heights, finding a place among top ten Agricultural Universities of India. Under his able stewardship, PJTSAU received "Institute of Excellence Award in 2019" from DDG (Education), ICAR; and its Research & Extension Centres received "13 Best Performance Awards". Under Prof. Rao's dynamic supervision, University developed and released 45 high yielding varieties & hybrids in major food and industrial crops.
Initiatives by Prof. Rao in forging Collaborations and Partnerships with reputed international institutions - IRRI, ICRISAT, Cornell University, Western Sydney University, University of Florida, University of Hohenheim etc., helped students and faculty in gaining international exposure, publications in high impact journals, writing Grant Proposals etc. Prof. Rao has co-authored over 380 publications (refereed national & international journal articles, books, book chapters, technical bulletins, extension articles, poplar articles, proceedings, reports, digital media etc.).
Currently he is guiding implementation of projects at PJTSAU on emerging technologies in collaboration with Agri-StartUps on Blockchain technology in seed production, Agrovoltaic crop models; AI, IoT, Sensors, RS & GIS & Drone applications combined with drip irrigation and fertigation in agri-horticultural crops, to enhance crop input use efficiency, productivity, profitability, and sustainability of large and small-scale production systems.
Prof. Rao received several national/international awards and recognitions, including the most prestigious Swaminathan Award 2019-20. Other awards conferred on him are: Best Leader with a Strategic Vision Award (2019), Best Vice Chancellor Award (2018), Education Leadership Award (2018), Life time Achievement Award from Vice President of India (2018), Life Time Achievement Award Soil Conservation Society of India (2018) from implementation of world's largest microirrigation in smallholder fields, Life Time Achievement Award from GVK Society of India (2015), NetAward, from Netafim, Israel (2006), Leadership Award (2005) for promotion of microirrigation in India, Africa and SE Asia, Meriterious Teacher Award (1998), ANGRAU (1998). He was awarded presigious MASHAV Fellowship, Israel (1995). Prof. Rao is currently elected President of the Prestigious Indian Society of Agronomy (2020 - 2022) and also served as Councilor (2001 - 2002), Indian Scociety of Agricultural Sciences, New Delhi. He has also been conferred with Fellowship of ISOR, CHAI, TAS, ISAE, SEE etc. He was invited as a Keynote Speaker for the Combined Universities Congress 2009, South Africa.