“Organizations such as ICRISAT should be prepared for constant and continual changes not only on the climate front but also in politics, geography and economy,” said Mr Elwyn Grainger-Jones, Executive Director, CGIAR System Management Office.
Mr Grainger-Jones and Ms Karmen Bennett, Head of Board and Council Relations at CGIAR, were on their maiden trip to ICRISAT-India. They toured the campus and later Mr Grainger-Jones addressed the senior members of ICRISAT.
Beginning the day with a visit to the wastewater treatment units at ICRISAT, Mr Grainger-Jones and Ms Bennett were informed that ICRISAT’s decentralized wastewater treatment plant had been identified by the Indian government for scaling up in rural areas. Many such plants in rural areas are managed by women and provide them with an income.
Ms. Bennett was very impressed by the direct and indirect benefits of women earning a livelihood from these projects.
Mr Elwyn Grainger-Jones, ED, CGIAR, speaks about how ICRISAT combines high-level research with good economics to make agriculture profitable and sustainable for the smallholder farmer.
Next, they visited the Platform for Translational Research on Transgenic Crops (PTTC) where upstream research of ICRISAT’s mandate crops is being carried out so that meaningful information can be extracted from huge genomic data available to the scientists today. The focus of PTTC is to make use of genome sequence data to precisely engineer crops by deciphering the underlying molecular mechanisms for desirable trait expression. Dr David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT, explained, “Our challenge in the science of delivery is to progress each of the technologies into appropriate crops, pass them on to seed producers for scaling up, and thus reduce the time for delivery.”
They then visited the Agribusiness Innovation Platform (AIP) unit, expressing interest in the various aspects of the AIP, such as providing infrastructure support to small and medium enterprises related to agricultural products, engaging with farmers in remote areas and linking them to markets.
The visitors were also briefed about the structure and operations of the Hybrid Parents Research Consortium for sorghum and pearl millet.
Expressing enthusiasm for the research work being carried out at ICRISAT, Mr Grainger-Jones hoped that the current scenario of global flux would give rise to beneficial partnerships and exceptional leadership at various levels. He said that the hard work, receptiveness to change and the quality of research at ICRISAT were exceptional. He promised to strive to create incentives for innovation and focus on achieving not just scientific but also economic breakthroughs.
Ms Karmen Bennett, Head of Board and Council Relations, CGIAR, expresses her views on how ICRISAT’s work directly and indirectly impacts rural women and families.
After visiting the ICRISAT Headquarters in Hyderabad, Mr Grainger-Jones and Ms. Bennett proceeded to New Delhi. They attended a meeting chaired by Dr Trilochan Mohapatra, Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), and Secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE). Dr AK Padhee, Director, Country Relations, ICRISAT; Mr Chhabilendra Roul (Additional Secretary of DARE and Secretary of ICAR); and several senior officials of DARE/ICAR (International Cooperation Division) also attended the meeting held at the Ministry of Agriculture. Next, they visited Vigyan Bhavan, the venue of the ongoing Kharif Conference, and met with Dr SK Pattanayak, Secretary, Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers’ Welfare. They also had other meetings with Prof Ramesh Chand, Member, NITI Aayog, and with the Delhi-based Heads of other CGIAR centers.
Mr Grainger-Jones and Ms Bennett visited ICRISAT-Hyderabad on 25 April and New Delhi on 26 April.