Under the new model of aligning all crop improvement operations, all the field operations across disciplines such as breeding, genomics and trait discovery, integrated crop management and physiology have come under one umbrella – the Crop Improvement Operations Team (CIOT). To mark this milestone, a portal where online requests can be made was launched and the logo unveiled.
Dr Jan Debaene, Global Head-Breeding, ICRISAT, gave an account of the genesis of CIOT. He emphasized that better skillsets can be developed by centralizing operations and building specialization teams. “The quality and precision of tasks can be increased, making it a successful example for other CGIAR institutes, as ICRISAT is the first to implement this initiative,” he said.
In the past, technical staff from each of the crop improvement teams had significantly contributed to the release of several new varieties and hybrids. Now, CIOT which is a ‘one-stop shop’ for all crop improvement operations, gives them an opportunity to learn new things about all the mandate crops and working in a team comes with many benefits in terms of knowledge sharing and meeting contingencies.
Prior to the launch, to prep up for the big change, a team building activity was held. The technical staff along with scientific officers attended a 2-day workshop on change management, team building and behavioral change.
Congratulating the team, Dr Peter Carberry, Director General, ICRISAT, stressed that the success of the program depends on the quality of the services CIOT offers. He said the new framework will provide diverse career opportunities to the team and chances of replicating the program in Mali and Zimbabwe. “We can show we can be the best in the CGAIR,” he said.
CIOT has nine teams and the major operations include Controlled Environment Research Facility operations, field operations, seed processing, seed inventory & storage, and sampling. Each team will have a lead facilitator and contributing members (2-10 per team, total of 34). The technical staff will move between teams, depending on the seasonal demand and each team will have a scientific advisor/consultant to advise and guide them.
The launch event on 19 September had the ICRISAT management group, research committee, scientists from various programs and the Farm and Engineering Services team in attendance. Dr KK Sharma, Deputy Director General-Research, Dr Pooran Gaur, Director, Research Program, Asia, Dr Harish Gandhi, Regional Breeding Lead – Asia and Dr Sobhan Sajja, CIOT Lead, spoke at the event.