ICRISAT and HarvestPlus signed an agreement for scientific and technical collaboration between the two global organizations. Mr Arun Baral, CEO, HarvestPlus, and Dr Jacqueline d’Arros Hughes, Director General, ICRISAT, signed the Memorandum of Understanding, which is made and entered into by IFPRI on behalf of its HarvestPlus Program. On the occasion, Dr Hughes said, “After 17 years of fruitful collaboration on biofortification research, we have now decided to elevate this partnership. ICRISAT and HarvestPlus will work together more closely, making available micronutrient-rich varieties, high-quality seed and related technologies to the farming communities and consumers. This will contribute to eliminating micronutrient malnutrition in the drylands.”
Mr Baral asserted, “Mainstreaming nutritional traits in crop development is a key element in scaling up biofortification globally to help end the epidemic of hidden hunger. HarvestPlus looks forward to partnering and working hand in hand with ICRISAT to ensure that the benefits of nutrient-rich staple crops extend to farming families in dryland communities.”
Dr Wolfgang H Pfeiffer, Director Research and Development, HarvestPlus, expressed happiness that the partnership will further boost variety development for African growing zones, particularly the Sahel, and accelerate a shift to high-iron pearl millet hybrids.’
Dr Arvind Kumar, Deputy Director General – Research, ICRISAT, said, “Under this agreement, HarvestPlus and ICRISAT will join forces to advance mainstreaming and scaling up of nutritional traits by ensuring adequate resources for this critical work to help smallholder farmers access to essential nutrition.”
ICRISAT and HarvestPlus have broadly agreed to carry out the following collaborative activities:
- Promote nutrition research in crop development on ICRISAT mandate crops in Asia and Africa
- Jointly advocate biofortification at the international level
- Mobilize resources for mainstreaming and targeted breeding of nutritional traits in crop breeding programs
- Support public and private sector institutions for mainstreaming nutrient traits into their crop development programs
- Promote research on enhancing nutrient bioavailability, retention, anti-nutrients, processing, etc.
- Upscale biofortified cultivars at farmers’ fields according to rules and regulations of the national agricultural research systems of identified countries.
This agreement will be a big step towards mainstreaming of nutritional traits in the breeding program of ICRISAT and NARS, which will lead to release of cultivars with grains rich in micronutrient traits in the future to mitigate the micronutrient malnutrition in dryland crops.