I recently had the great pleasure of visiting SEWA (the Self-Employed Women’s Association of India) in Gujarat. Their main office is in Ahmedabad, Gujarat – though they work across several states in India. SEWA was formed the same year as ICRISAT – in 1972. What started with a small group of dedicated women working together in Gujarat has now become a vibrant co-operative with two million members across the country.
Both ICRISAT and SEWA have grown up in India and, whilst both are serving different purposes in society, what really struck me was how by joining hands with an organisation such as SEWA we can really achieve impact at scale in a short period of time. This in turn will ensure that our science is relevant and that it meets the needs of women farmers to create economic opportunity and sustainable development … not only in India but in Sub-Saharan Africa as well. Read more
I am at the World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa this week to meet with Hunger Fighters from around the world.
Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg (Director, AWARD) repeated a statement by President Obama during his recent trip to Kenya – “if you don’t put out half your team you will not win the game”; and for agriculture, if we are not empowering our women scientists we will not win the war on hunger and poverty.
One of the delegates I met was Chapwa Kasoma, who is one of those young scientists who can provide solutions to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals at the UN announced last month. Chapwa commented that for African women there is a culture of submission that holds young women back. Fortunately for Chapwa, she now is being mentored by Dr. Damaris Odeny who leads ICRISAT’s Biotechnology program in Nairobi. Damaris is also an AWARD fellow who spent time with Dow in the USA during 2012 to learn about technology and business processes applied at Dow to ensure research translates to improved technology in farmer’s fields. Read more
I recently travelled to Europe for two important conferences: the International Plant Protection Congress in Berlin and World Water Week (WWW) in Stockholm.
The IPPC is always an interesting venue as it brings together plant protection disciplines from not only across the globe but also across various disciplines like weeds and pests, diseases and insects and so forth. The Congress addressed some of the big issues in plant protection today such as climate change and its impact on pests, and legal issues such as how to put in place legal instruments that support responsible use of technology for plant protection.
During the Congress there were a lot of very good isolated projects presented and discussed but I think the challenge is how do you connect them – all these research outputs & projects – into an integrated approach to increase crop productivity in a sustainable manner?
In the opening session I was fortunate enough to receive an Award of Distinction – one of six awards given out at the Congress. The meeting was attended by some 1400 delegates from 95 countries. The IPPC meets every 4 years and coincidentally the next Congress is being hosted by ICRISAT in Hyderabad in 2019.
Opportunities opened this week for new models to work with private industry. I spent the day at a Confederation of Indian Industry event and was inspired by the success of a range of Indian agribusiness people and their ideas for partnership to ensure research leads to innovations and adoption. I can see these new connections are going to bring about a new way for us to do business and achieve our mission.
This was all started thanks to attending the Confederation’s Agri Technology and Mechanization Summit in New Delhi. Leaders in agribusiness discussed not only mechanization but the shift to innovation and adoption and especially the roles private industry, researchers and government should take in this regard.
Issues from how to make precision farming relevant to the small holder farmer to challenges around commercialization and approaches needed to ensure adoption were discussed. Mr Anthony Cherukara, VP (Strategy) and Head of Agri & Allied Business, Kirloskar Oil Engines (KOEL) noted that 64% of land holdings in India do not have a tractor or any similar mechanical devise. I also spoke on an area I am leading within ICRISAT on digital agriculture. Here is a part of my presentation and some key points