3) Shaping the Future of the Semi-Arid Tropics: World-Renowned Experts Help Develop a Blueprint for ICRISAT's Future and Growth (November 2000)

In keeping with the spirit of the new millennium, ICRISAT invited a panel of internationally renowned experts - such as
Dr. V. Kurien, Father of the “White (Dairy Industry) Revolution” in India – to an International Symposium on the Future of Agriculture in the Semi-Arid Tropics (SAT) on 14 November at ICRISAT-Patancheru.

The experts were chosen from a wide range of national, regional, and international institutions to help ICRISAT learn from their rich experience and wisdom in order to develop a blueprint for the Institute's future and growth.

The International Symposium was the culmination of a series of Brainstorming Sessions on SAT Futures held at various ICRISAT Centers globally in the past few months as part of a process to develop a long-term strategy over a 20-years' horizon for the Institute. (See "Developing a road-map to the future of the semi-arid tropics", and "Brainstorming a Brighter Future for the Dry Areas of the Rural Tropics")

ICRISAT Director General Dr. William D. Dar, presenting his Opening Remarks for the Symposium commended the leading experts and said, “No one understands the harsh realities of the SAT and SAT agriculture better than the eminent panelists we have with us.”

Critical forces and trends that would determine the shape of agriculture in the SAT in the next couple of decades and their implications on ICRISAT's research thrusts were discussed. The panelists emphasized the importance of specific approaches that should be considered in this long-term strategy so that ICRISAT continues to be relevant and demand-driven in the new millennium.

Recounting his experience of the Dairy Development Project in India, Dr. Kurien said, “Only when we, as scientists look at the world from farmers' perspective in a holistic manner by removing the blindfold imposed by our narrow disciplinary training and experiences we will be able to make a difference in the lives of farmers living in semi-arid areas.”

Ms. Victoria Sekitoleko, Sub Regional Representative for Southern and Eastern Africa, FAO, Harare, recounted her knowledge and experience of the agricultural situation in Africa, highlighting the critical role of education and good governance for a real impact on farmers.

One of the seminal papers of the Symposium “Some Challenges, Trends and Opportunities Shaping the Future of the Semi-Arid Tropics” was presented by Dr. James G Ryan, Visiting Fellow, Australian National University, Canberra and former ICRISAT Director General. The paper was jointly written by Drs Ryan and Dunstan Spencer, who have been commissioned by ICRISAT to develop a White Paper on this theme. Dr. Ryan's presentation concluded that considering the big difference in the agricultural situation of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, ICRISAT should have different R&D strategies for the two SAT regions.

Jock R. Anderson, Advisor, Rural Development Strategy and Policy, World Bank, Washington DC presented his thoughts on the analysis by Drs. Ryan and Spencer.

Panel discussions followed the presentations, chaired by Dr. Kurien and the Program Director of ICRISAT's Socioeconomics and Policy Program, Dr. Cynthia Bantilan. Dr. Jill M. Lenné, Deputy Director General, ICRISAT, made the Closing Remarks.

by ICRISAT. All rights reserved.