The 100th meeting of the ICRISAT Governing Board, which was recently convened, has endorsed the initiatives designed to progress the Institute’s strategic vision. The annual budget for 2022 was also approved in the meeting. This was the fifth Board meeting convened virtually since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prof Prabhu Pingali, Chair, ICRISAT Governing Board (GB), expressed his delight at his recent visit to the HQ in Hyderabad. He said it was a great opportunity to interact with the staff in the field and in labs, and to get an idea about the latest progress on the ground.
“I’m impressed with the way management have succeeded in continuing operations despite the many challenges due to the pandemic; the systems put in place will hopefully address any future ‘waves’ or ‘peaks’,” he said.
In briefing the meeting on the International Year of Millets (IYM) in 2023, Prof Pingali underscored its significance as a great opportunity for ICRISAT to showcase its work and its strong partnership with the Government of India. “As a Board, we stand firmly with the Indian government to promote IYM2023,” he said.
On behalf of all Board members, Prof Pingali thanked Ms Joanna Kane-Potaka, former Asst Director General, ICRISAT, and Executive Director, Smart Food, for her immense contribution towards building up the Smart Food initiative and also for her contributions over the past nine years.
Dr Trilochan Mohapatra, Vice Chair, ICRISAT GB, congratulated the Institute for winning the Africa Food Prize. He remarked that while Indian agriculture has performed well despite the impacts of COVID-19, there were several goals yet to be met such as breaking yield ceilings, mainstreaming millets, arresting decline in crop-growing areas and establishing sustainable food systems. He urged the Board to delve deeper into these challenges so as to develop solutions which would propel ICRISAT to further significance in the dryland regions.
Dr Jacqueline Hughes, Director General, ICRISAT, presented an update over the past 4+ months across the areas of finance, operations and administration; strategies for sustainable agricultural R4D; collaborative relationships and long-term support for research in the drylands. She welcomed Ms Anita Pirani, Director, Business Development, and Mr Ramon Peachey, Director, Communications, to the organization.
“Our Annual Report 2020, the Strategic Plan (2021-25) and the rolling Medium-Term Plan (2021-23) are all out now,” said Dr Hughes. “This means that we’re well positioned to take our work forward to deliver on our mission and vision, and to target the SDGs – Zero Hunger, No Poverty, Climate Action, SDG 5b (in the Gender Equality goal) and Partnerships (SDG17).”
Among other things, Dr Hughes updated the Board about the upcoming golden jubilee celebrations for ICRISAT’s 50th year in 2022. She mentioned that the staff had contributed over 240 ideas for celebrating the momentous occasion and they were all being looked into by a special committee.
In mentioning the Africa Food Prize that was awarded to ICRISAT this year, she thanked the current Board and its predecessors for their support and guidance, especially Drs CLL Gowda and Rajeev Varshney, who were the Principal Investigators for key segments of the Tropical Legumes project, for which the award was given.
“For collaborative relationships, we’re continuing to build stronger links with our partners, including the Government of India, NARS partners, the private sector, etc. on different fora and the research team is making huge efforts to do this,” she said.
Dr Hughes also announced a new Memorandum of Agreement (MoU) signed with the World Food Programme (WFP) in New Delhi on 23 September 2021. “WFP, a Nobel Prize winner, is now linked with an Africa Food Prize winner: this is significant,” said Dr Hughes, thanking Dr Arabinda Padhee for his contribution in this regard. “This is our third MoU with WFP; We have one in Mali, one with Italy in Somalia and now one in India,” she said.
Subsequently, other research teams presented their reports to the Board which were deliberated upon and endorsed.
Reported by: Rajani Kumar,
Senior Communications Officer,