19 January 2023, New Delhi: At the invitation of the Government of India’s Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, 16 International Agricultural Research Centers (IARCs), including 10 CGIAR centers attended a meeting at ICRISAT Headquarters in Hyderabad, to update on their research activities in India and innovations in the pipeline.
Important outcomes included identifying the critical need for aligning research activities of the centers with the priorities of the country; and planning for a similar meeting every year in January/ February to synergize Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the IARCs’ research activities.
Mr Manoj Ahuja, Secretary, Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (DA&FW), Government of India, who participated virtually, set the context of the meeting. In his concluding remarks he expressed the need to ‘institutionalize’ the annual meeting to integrate knowledge from all the centers and plan effectively both for the short, medium and long-term research goals.
“Any knowledge, idea or practice useful to the farmer in India, should reach them as quickly as possible before the opportunity is lost. We need a sandbox kind of environment to test new ideas/ knowledge and then quickly roll it out and find out the extent it can be scaled out,” said Mr Manoj Ahuja.
Ms Shubha Thakur, Joint Secretary (Crops, Oil Seeds & Administration, CVO), DA&FW, who participated actively in the discussions, emphasized the need for building strong seed systems and facilitating easy accessibility of improved varieties to farmers. She said she was happy to be part of the ‘first common meeting’ of all the IARCs.
“This was a great learning experience, hearing about all of the technologies you have to offer and to think of how we can incorporate them in our Government of India schemes and programs,” said Ms Shubha Thakur.
Ms Temina Lalani-Shariff, Regional Director, South Asia, CGIAR, presented case studies on technologies developed by the One CGIAR for regions across India, which were appreciated by officials from DA&FW.
Dr Arvind Kumar, Deputy Director General-Research ICRISAT, highlighted the many achievements of ICRISAT and its work across disciplines and across the agriculture for development value chain. He cited the example of soil and water conservation in Bundelkhand which caught the attention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and spoke of plans to out-scale to other regions.
Throughout the meeting, Dr Praveen Kumar Singh, Agriculture Commissioner, DA&FW responded to the presentations and highlighted priority areas.
Summing up the day’s proceedings ICRISAT Board Chair Prof. Prabhu Pingali emphasized on the importance of combining technologies and socio-economic analysis. He commended the active and friendly discussions in the meeting and thanked Mr Manoj Ahuja and his team for taking the initiative to set up the meeting.
“It is a great privilege for ICRISAT to host this meeting and to have CGIAR centers and other international research centers in the same room. We all are committed to the same cause of ensuring food security, poverty reduction, sustainability and addressing climate change issues. Let’s identify the priority areas for the Ministry and the geographies and then bring together our collective talents to address problems,” said Prof. Pingali.
Speaking on behalf of the Institute Mr Sanjay Agarwal, Assistant Director General, ICRISAT thanked all the participants for the knowledge, experience and capabilities sharing in the meeting. He expressed his confidence that this knowledge sharing with the Government of India and the Centers shall act as catalyst for its adaptation and scaling up to the farmer’s field. He opined that a similar exercise with the state governments could also be planned.
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