9) ICRISAT Strengthens Partnerships with the Private and Public Sectors (September 2000)

Traditionally used for food, especially in rural semi-arid tropics, sorghum and pearl millet have a great potential for industrial uses: poultry feed, snacks, or alcoholic beverages. This was one of the themes that were highlighted in the
4-day Field Day events (12-13 September for Pearl Millet and 14-15 September for Sorghum) organized at ICRISAT-Patancheru.

The other important themes that emerged during the Field Days were the developments in the use of cutting-edge technology - such as molecular markers and genomics for sorghum and pearl millet breeding - online crop information systems, and the importance of forging strong R&D partnerships between public and private sectors.

The Field Day events, coordinated by ICRISAT researchers Dr Belum V S Reddy (Sorghum) and Dr K N Rai (Pearl Millet) this year differed from those of previous years in several ways:

  • The Field Days were organized for the first time with funding support from the private sector.

  • The scope of issues covered during the presentations and discussions was large and topical.

  • The number of participants, especially from the private sector, was very high.

In total, 54 private sector partners participated in the two events, demonstrating the growing strength of ICRISAT-private sector research partnerships. “This partnership makes not only ICRISAT research stronger, but it also strengthens indirectly the joint project activities of ICRISAT and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) on hybrid parents,” said Dr William Dar, inaugurating the Pearl Millet Field Day.

The participants, including over 50 representatives from the public sector, had a first-hand view of joint trials, breeding materials, and screening techniques for disease and insect pest resistance. They discussed production and utilization trends, and research status and needs relating to sorghum and pearl millet. The Field Days provided the participants with an opportunity to evaluate and select breeding materials for use in their program.

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