16) ICRISAT and University of Western Australia strengthen ties

The University of Western Australia (UWA) and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) will further extend their ongoing collaboration in dryland agricultural research. A three member delegation led by the Vice- Chancellor of UWA, Alan Robson, expressed its wish to strengthen collaborative research, particularly in chickpea.

The UWA, which has an ongoing five-year breeding program for Ascochyta blight (the blight infects all the parts of the plant above ground) resistant chickpea, has extended it for three more years. The ongoing program is slated to conclude by December 2009. Similarly the university will encourage exchange of students for research at ICRISAT.

Along with this, the UWA announced fifty research scholarships for Indian students wishing to pursue research in various fields in Australia and a grant of Australian $ 25,000 per year for students who will undertake research under joint supervision of ICRISAT and UWA.

Stressing the need for strengthening strategic partnerships, ICRISAT Director General William Dar said that the challenge of feeding the poor in developing countries is big and there is need for cooperation. “We will be working on a new work plan for the coming two to five years so that ICRISAT and UWA could generate fundamental work for the people of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa,” he added. In recognition of the collaborative work between the two institutions, he presented a certificate of recognition to Alan Robson.

Alan Robson pointed out that Australia, with vast tracts of semi-arid land mass would encourage its Asian and African students to work closely with ICRISAT, which has vast knowledge in this field. “We at UWA have decided to give more scholarships for students willing to work on Africa based research projects,” Prof Robson said.

Pro Vice-Chancellor Robyn Owens; Director, Institute of Agriculture, Kadambot Siddique; and Director, International centre, Kelly Smith were part of the UWA delegation.

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