3) 'Investment in Agricultural R&D – A Must for Growth and Peace' Says ICRISAT DG (October 2001)

“Because we all live in an interconnected world, investments in agricultural R&D – to fight hunger and poverty – can protect us from the suffering and strife that command the world's attention today,” said ICRISAT Director General Dr William Dar.

Dr Dar made this urgent plea in a Conference organized by FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, on the occasion of the 21st World Food Day in Bangkok, Thailand. He was invited as the Keynote Speaker by Dr R B Singh, FAO Regional Representative. Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn presided over the celebrations.

Deeply concerned over the worsening funding situation for research, Dr Dar quoted from a study by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), which reveals that between 1980 and 1990, agricultural development investment as a percentage of total world development assistance fell from 20% to 14%, and has continued to decline since then.

Dr Dar pointed out that the world has immensely benefited from the investments in research that led to the Green Revolution. “The dry tropics, however, were bypassed by the Green Revolution, which favored the better-endowed areas. ICRISAT is spearheading a Grey-to-Green Revolution in these neglected areas, where poverty is concentrated.”

Highlighting one of ICRISAT's impacts on the the poor, he said that by shortening the growth cycle of pigeonpea and chickpea by a third, these protein-rich pulse crops can now be inserted with rice and wheat cultivation in South Asia, enriching farmers' incomes and nutrition.

“Expanding our partnerships has been the key to such achievements,” Dr Dar said, mentioning the innovative partnership that ICRISAT has forged with Indian seed companies. Some of these companies are funding ICRISAT's hybrid research, without hindering ICRISAT's mission to produce public goods. “As wonderful as these investments are, they do not replace the enormously important role of international development assistance.”

Dr Dar concluded that by taking advantage of exciting opportunities such as innovative partnerships, information and biotechnology revolutions, farmer-participatory research, the Grey to Green Revolution can be sparked off in the dry tropics. “We can then look forward to a more just, prosperous, and hunger-free world.”

At the end of the Conference, Her Royal Highness presented Dr Dar with a World Food Day medal.

by ICRISAT. All rights reserved.