Newsroom  Press releases  2003

2) Sehgal Foundation gifts Further $1 million to ICRISAT (20 November 2003)

Gurgaon/Hyderabad, India. The S.M. Sehgal Foundation, India, today announced a major new endowment of US$1 million for the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). The endowment will help ICRISAT to bolster orphan crops research.

The Foundation's new donation will supplement its earlier donation of $1 million to ICRISAT in 2002. The endowment, which will also get matching funds from ICRISAT (taking the total fund to $4 million), is specifically intended for research on crops for resource-poor farmers. ICRISAT is already using the endowment to improve resistance to downy mildew disease in bajra (pearl millet), and to grain mold and shootfly in jowar (sorghum). Part of the new endowment will also be used to conduct research on sustainable management of natural resources in Gurgaon District of Haryana.

According to Dr Suri Sehgal, Founder and Chairman of the Sehgal Foundation, research by ICRISAT and other CGIAR centers has had a tremendous impact on the welfare of farmers throughout the developing world. Private sector seed companies have also been significant beneficiaries of this public sector research.

“Problems of water management are now also acute in many areas of the developing word,” said Dr Sehgal. “The UN's recent Water Summit in Japan has been a timely reminder of the efforts that must be made to ensure this precious resource. ICRISAT has already made a significant impact in rural India with its research on appropriate water management technologies. I welcome the expansion of their efforts to the Gurgaon District”.

Accepting the donation from the Sehgal Foundation, Dr William Dar, Director General of ICRISAT, said that the new donation would enable the Institute to expand its important research on pearl millet and sorghum, which are of immense importance to resource poor farmers in the semi-arid tropics. While ICRISAT has made significant progress in pearl millet and sorghum improvement, the genetic potential of these crops is still far from optimized.

Dr Dar added, that the support for research on water management will strengthen the impact of our work in this important area. “Farmers and rural communities in the developing world are increasingly threatened by water insecurity and drought. Urgent action must be taken to improve the management of water resources. I hope that the generous gift of the Sehgal Foundation will raise awareness amongst other donors of the crucial development role being played by ICRISAT and other CGIAR centers.”

Pearl millet and sorghum are traditional crops of low-income farmers. While both crops are suited for planting in water scarce areas, research to improve them has been limited. ICRISAT, a member of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), is today the most important publicly funded international research center for sorghum and pearl millet breeding. Despite the success of ICRISAT's research, considerable further work is required in the areas of disease and pest resistance in both crops.

The Sehgal Foundation is active in integrated sustainable village development, including water management, in several villages in Gurgaon District.

The Partners:

The Sehgal Foundation was created for furthering the well-being of rural Indian communities. The Foundation pursues an integrated approach to sustainable village development and assists a variety of programs. The Sehgal family supports the work of the Foundation. Registered as a Trust in India in 1999, the Founder and Chairman is Suri Sehgal. Dr Sehgal is a distinguished international agriculturalist. He is also the Founder and past Chairman of the Proagro Group of Companies, India.

ICRISAT is a non-profit, apolitical, international organization for science-based agricultural development. Established in 1972, ICRISAT is a Future Harvest Center of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). The CGIAR is an association of public and private members supporting a system of 16 Future Harvest Centers that work in more than 100 countries on cutting-edge science to reduce hunger, poverty, improve health, and protect the environment.

ICRISAT's mission is to help the poor of the semi-arid tropics through science with a human face. The research is partnership-based and aimed to increase agricultural productivity, food security, reduce poverty, and protect the environment in semi-arid tropics.

Contact: Dr (Ms) Ellora Mubashir, Sehgal Foundation, 289, Sector 17A, Gurgaon, Haryana 122 001. Tel: +91 124 2397621, 2397622, 5010426; Fax: +91 124 6346733. Email: ellora(at)nda(dot)vsnl(dot)net(in)in.
Website: http://www.smsfoundation.org

ICRISAT contact: Dr CLL Gowda at c(dot)gowda(at)cgiar.org.

by ICRISAT. All rights reserved.