20) Asia-Pacific agricultural research experts meet at Hyderabad

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) are jointly hosting three meetings related to the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI) and the Cereals and Legumes Asia Network (CLAN). The meetings are being held from 8 to 10 October, with the inauguration and first day's events being hosted at an ICAR Institute – the National Academy of Agricultural Research Management (NAARM), Hyderabad – and the other two days at ICRISAT.

Speaking at the Inaugural Session held at NAARM on 8 October, Dr William Dar, Director General of ICRISAT, said that the meetings were important events that built bridges between the international agricultural research centers, the national agricultural research systems in the Asia-Pacific region, the civil society organizations and the private sector institutions through networking.

“Together we can work towards reducing poverty, protecting the environment and improving the agricultural production systems,” Dr Dar said. “We have a mission to fulfill and impacts to achieve.”

He said that in the past 17 years APAARI has grown to be an important regional player, with the participation from 17 national agricultural research systems, and several international and regional agricultural research institutions in he Asia-Pacific Region. The real challenge is to focus agricultural research to bring out of poverty the 60% of the one billion global poor who live in Asia . These poor people are vulnerable to global changes such as climate change, desertification, land degradation and increase in fossil fuel prices.

Dr Mangala Rai, Director General of ICAR said that the most significant achievement of APAARI is that it provides a platform that has brought together the agricultural research institutions of the Asia-Pacific region. “There are no political boundaries for agricultural problems and solutions, Dr Rai added.

According to Dr Rai, if India 's neighbors such as Bangladesh or Nepal suffered from a new race of wheat rust it was a signal for Indian research to take preventive action. Similarly, working together provides win-win solutions. For instance, Indian research institutes started working on pyramiding of drought tolerance genes in wheat, when Australian national researchers who were trying to pyramid three other different genes contacted them. “Working to pyramid the six genes can only provide a win-win solution to all,” he said.

Dr RS Paroda, Executive Secretary of APAARI, said that the meetings provide a neutral platform for strengthening the national agricultural research system, information sharing, research networking, capacity building and policy advocacy. Agricultural networking is essential to make use of the available funds effectively for research.

Highlighting the task ahead of the regional experts, Dr Paroda said that they have to strengthen existing regional networks and consortia, carry out a gap analysis on research needs, develop a new proposal for regional partnership and develop a funding strategy for mobilizing financial resources.

Dr Carlos Sere, Director General of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), said that livestock research has to be integrated with the other crop research since 30% of the agricultural GDP globally comes from the livestock sector. It is also the most dynamic part of agriculture since with changing consumption patterns there is an increasing demand for meat and meat products worldwide.

Around 70 participants from India and other APAARI member countries in the Asia-Pacific region are attending the meetings, including representatives from international and national agricultural research institutions and other regional research institutions.

APAARI aims at promoting and facilitating agricultural research for development in the Asia-Pacific region through novel partnerships among national agricultural research systems and other related organizations. It provides a platform for inter-regional and inter-institutional collaboration.

The Cereals and Legumes Asia Network (CLAN) is constituted by national program partners in Asia working together to improve the productivity of cereals and legumes in Asia . It facilitates technology exchange and regional coordination of research and development. CLAN is co-facilitated by the World Vegetable Center (AVRDC), the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA) and ICRISAT and is hosted by ICRISAT, at its Patancheru campus. The Steering Committee of CLAN is meeting on 10 October to review the past collaborative activities and provide guidance for future R&D efforts for Asia involving cereals and legumes.

For further information, contact Dr CLL Gowda at c(dot)gowda(at)cgiar(dot)org.

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