Discussions during the Global Planning Meeting. Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

Promoting quality science through interdisciplinary research

Discussions during the Global Planning Meeting. Photo: PS Rao

Discussions during the Global Planning Meeting. Photo: PS Rao

During the biennial planning session of ICRISAT’s senior scientists, Dr David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT, said, “One of the challenges is how can we bring different disciplines and programs together to develop integrated multidisciplinary proposals as a key step in our strategy toward implementing our new organizational structure, delivering our country strategies and offering high quality science through interdisciplinary approaches.”

Dr Chandra Madramootoo, ICRISAT Governing Board Chair, emphasized the need to close yield gaps. Using the example of a study on groundnuts in India, he explained how the gaps between average yields, maximum yields and minimum yields are highly variable, especially when soil stresses are considered.

“Along with factoring in biotic and abiotic stresses, I think we need to put our crop breeding research programs in line with risks and business risks, because that is what the farmers are into, they are into this business and they need to manage risks. I think we should re-position and think how we look at our crop breeding strategy in terms of risks,” said Dr Madramootoo.

The Global Planning Meeting set aside a considerable amount of time, to review and enhance the existing crop breeding programs, discuss modernization of crop improvement, and strategize how to harness new tools to maximize genetic gains. Innovation systems research was also discussed in detail to ascertain how all the different disciplines in crop improvement, innovation systems and other global and regional programs can work together to contribute to ICRISAT’s mission.

Specific case studies on: scaling up climate-smart agriculture, watershed management innovation and crop-livestock market were presented and discussed, to better understand and apply the innovation systems approach to agriculture research. Updates and highlights of ICRISAT’s global research programs were also presented by the respective research program directors.

To generate innovative research ideas, a ‘team challenge’ was organized during the meeting. Teams were required to come up with one innovative research topic, where the winning team would receive USD 5,000.

Eight research ideas were presented, and the winning pitch was from Dr Chris Ojiewo and team ‘A Global Framework of Integrated Seed Systems for Climate Smart Crops’.Second runner-ups were: Dr Tilahun Amede Wondifraw and team, Dr Damaris A Odeny and team and Dr Albert Johannes Gierend and team.

Dr Peter Carberry, Deputy Director General – Research, ICRISAT, urged the participants to work as a team, across regional and global programs to deliver impact oriented work that ratifies and supports ICRISAT’s strategy of inclusive market oriented development for smallholder farmers.

“We have to ensure that we continue to deliver quality science that has a stand in the international community. We also need to deliver technology that has global and regional impact. We are an applied research organization and our vision and mission is about having impact on the ground and we have to deliver appropriate technology,” said Dr Carberry.

Over 212 scientists, managers and administrative staff from ICRISAT’s nine locations worldwide, convened at the 2017 Global Planning Meeting to update ICRISAT’s strategy, confirm 2017 work plans and identify methods to raise the science quality and impacts from research. The meeting took place at ICRISAT-India on 14-16 February.

For ICRISAT’s work in the last 45 years click here

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