Author Archives: David Bergvinson

Unlikely partnerships and alliances

Meeting with officials from the Telangana State Co-operative Apex Bank

Meeting with officials from the Telangana State Co-operative Apex Bank

I have recently attended a number of official functions in Hyderabad and met some really interesting people from a disparate group of organisations … all of whom had one thing in common: an open mind for cross sector partnerships and thinking out of the box for new ways technologies and expertise can be shared for different uses.

One such function was hosted by the hugely dynamic Peter Hassan – businessman and diplomat and currently Advisor on Strategy & Planning to the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

Aside from being a vast source of information himself, Peter had managed to draw together a diverse group of leaders, diplomats and business heads from government, the diplomatic sector, and industries and NGOs such as ITC hotels, the LV Prasad Eye Institute and the UN’s Food & Agricultural Organisation (FAO). Read more

Outstanding Institute Award to CRIDA

Sardar Patel Award from PM I was delighted to see the Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA) being awarded the Sardar Patel Outstanding Research Institute Award, at the recent 87th Foundational Day celebrations of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).

Held in Patna, Bihar, out of Delhi for the first time, the ceremony was attended by the Honorable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi who presented 82 ICAR awards to institutions, scientists, teachers, agricultural journalists and farmers.

PM Modi praised Indian scientists for their work and emphasized the need for scientific innovations in the agriculture sector to move from “lab to land,” so that farmers can benefit from them. Read more

From genebank to farmer’s hands


Viewing pre-breeding of crops with Dr Shivali Sharma

Last week I viewed the pre-breeding lines of chickpea, pigeon pea and groundnut at ICRISAT with senior scientist in genetic resources, Dr Shivali Sharma.  The lines were produced by crossing some of the unique resources from ICRISAT’s genebank to build varieties resistant to the pests, diseases and environmental stresses that farmers’ face.

It was great to see what Shivali has been doing as I did similar research while developing insect resistant maize at CIMMYT some years ago.  She showed me lines that are being especially selected and bred to resist:

  • Late leaf spot in groundnut;
  • Ascochyta blight and Botrytis grey mould in chickpea; and
  • Pod borer in pigeon pea

Read more

Taking time to engage with investors

My first priority when joining ICRISAT was to visit all of our country offices and see our work on the ground with partners and engage directly with farmers. I learnt so much from these visits.  My attention has recently focused on meeting more donors to understand their perspectives and needs in relation to what ICRISAT can contribute towards a shared vision of prosperity through agriculture research for development.

There was strong donor support for ICRISAT’s program during meetings on my recent visit to the USA. This both confirmed the importance of our work and the opportunities for us to improve the delivery of technical, actionable, measurable and relevant research.  While in the US, I met with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, MARS, Tata Trust, USAID, World Bank, IFAD and the Clinton Climate Initiative.

Holistic model Diagram_1a SmallI explained how we are taking steps to improve the efficiency of our operations, facilitating work across programs and disciplines, and integrating work in Africa and Asia.  We are also linking work across the whole agricultural R4D chain in service of national priorities to empower farmers to become profitable and manage risks.

ICRISAT has developed this agricultural R4D value chain graphic to represent the holistic approach  we take working from the land and water management all the way through to agribusiness and market development. Read more

Inspiration for agriculture in India and the world

A standing ovation for Prof MS Swaminathan

A standing ovation for Prof MS Swaminathan

It was a real honor to sit next to Prof. MS Swaminathan this week during the plenary lectures marking the Silver Jubilee Foundation Day of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences – an organization he started in 1990, of which I am pleased to say, ICRISAT is now a member.

Listening to details of M.S. Swaminathan’s career was amazing. In his presentation I was impressed with the clarity in which he remembered names, events and feelings over his 60 year journey in agricultural research for development. His passion for inclusion of women, preserving our planet by calling for an Evergreen Revolution in agriculture, and for helping tribal people who are the most disadvantaged in India, was an inspiration to me – and to the world.

Meeting with current and past leaders of India’s most influential agriculture institutions gave me a rich and deep perspective of the people behind the science that drove the first Green Revolution and in positioning young scientists to realize the Evergreen Revolution in India over the coming years. Read more