Distant yet together: A poignant celebration of our Annual Day
Reflection, gratitude and anticipation mark the occasion.
With the pandemic creating havoc and disrupting lives across the globe in many ways, 2020 has been a turbulent year for ICRISAT and its workforce. Despite the challenges and constraints, the team came together as one to celebrate our 48th Annual Day – from a distance, yet with sensitivity, dignity and gratitude. It was a celebration of hard work and dedication, as much as hope and determination to overcome all hurdles. This year’s celebrations were observed with a difference – with precautions against the pandemic taking utmost priority. Most of our staff joined virtually while the staff receiving the awards were present in person.
In his message, Dr Prabhu Pingali, Chair, ICRISAT Governing Board, was glad that ICRISAT was able, despite the challenges, to celebrate the achievements and the impact that ICRISAT has on the lives of the poor, especially those in the drylands. “I’m delighted that ICRISAT continues to be a leader in science, all the way from genomics to social sciences. The work it is doing in innovative plant breeding – shifting from traditional breeding activities towards modern breeding platforms, looking at product portfolios and breeding innovations – is very significant,” he said.
Addressing all staff, Dr Jacqueline Hughes, Director General, ICRISAT, commended each member of the staff, who, in their own way, had contributed immensely to make it possible for the research and development work to continue uninterrupted – managing work from home, working at odd and extended hours while supporting their loved ones through ill health and other crises.
She also thanked all those who were working hard to make the transition to One CGIAR a reality, “for their support, flexibility and generosity of spirit.” “This turbulent time has shown us that it is a time for doers, makers and risk-takers,” said Dr Jackie, emphasizing that this year has taught many to think out of the box and work together so that “the end result is greater than the sum of the parts,” she said.
On the use of modern tools and technologies she said, “Let’s embrace the possibilities, leapfrog current technology limitations to provide better and new services, develop an enabled vision and move forward with ingenious use of technologies to help us do our work better, more effectively and more intelligently.”
“As an institute not only should we do the right things but also do it in the right manner. Upholding research ethics is the bedrock of ICRISAT’s reputation and the goodwill it enjoys with donors and partners. There are several measures for maintaining the quality of scientific research. Some are preventive (e.g. enhancing the knowledge about scientific methods, proper handling of scientific data, adequate documentation of scientific procedures) and can be overseen by research supervisors. Other measures respond to science quality concerns.”
As is the tradition, long-serving employees of ICRISAT were felicitated for their contribution to the organization on the occasion of the ICRISAT Annual Day. Employees with 10 or more years of service were invited to the campus and awarded certificates from their respective Research Program Directors amid appreciative applause.
This year a special category of awards was instituted to honor those who had gone ‘Above and Beyond the Call of Duty’ and worked tirelessly to help manage services and operations, secure our campus locations, provide medical help, provide supplies/equipment and much more in the time of the crisis and the lockdowns, particularly during the early phases.
Working virtually has its constraints. While the Annual Day celebrations at ICRISAT Hyderabad were held on 18 December, ICRISAT offices in West and Central Africa (WCA) and Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) held their Annual Day celebrations on 17 December so that all staff members could view these events as each location livestreamed their celebrations.
Flagging off the celebrations in Bamako, Mali, Dr Ramadjita Tabo, Research Program Director, WCA, commended the long-service awardees and those who put in extra efforts during the COVID crisis. From Niamey, Niger, giving out award certificates to deserving members of his staff, Dr Malick Ba, Country Representative, Niger, praised them for their diligence in the face of challenges. Dr Hakeem Ajeigbe, Country Representative, Nigeria, who himself completed 10 years of serving ICRISAT, applauded his team which went all out to achieve 100% of targets, despite the issues created due to the pandemic.
Dr Rebbie Harawa, Research Program Director, ESA, joined in from Nairobi, Kenya, heartily appreciating and encouraging every member of her team for coping very well with changed circumstances since the pandemic hit in March 2020. Joining the livestream from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Dr Tilahun Amede, Country Representative, Ethiopia, reminded the audience about the extremely challenging conditions they were facing currently, with not just the COVID pandemic but also the locust menace and security issues in the country. He thanked his team members for going out of their way to ensure that research work continued unhindered.
Dr Martin Moyo, Country Representative, Zimbabwe, also felicitated members of his team. Dr Samuel Njoroge joined the event from Lilongwe, Malawi, and felicitated employees who had won awards for their long or outstanding service on behalf of Dr Patrick Okori, Country Representative, Malawi.
Our extraordinary Annual Day celebrations this year infused a sense of confidence and hope in the team, filling us with anticipation of achieving greater successes in the coming year.