This week I traveled to Bengaluru (in Karnataka state, India) to take part in a global meeting of private investors. At ‘Invest Karnataka’ I felt there was a lot of enthusiasm and optimism around Karnataka and the role private sector can play in bringing about economic development.
I was among more than 4,000 participants from the private sector, the government and to a lesser degree civil society that had gathered to talk about ways in which we can build partnerships to invest in long term sustained growth through innovation, an open society and open approach to development. Read more →
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.
With members of SEWA in Ganeshpura village, Gujarat
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 recently attended the 23rd International Grasslands Congress which was held in Delhi for the first time in order to focus on the challenges grasslands in India face as they come under increasingly intense pressure. Some 200 international delegates attended along with about 300 scientists from across India.
The Congress was hosted by the Range Management Society of India as well as ICAR-Indian Grassland and Fodder Research Institute and the overall focus of the meeting was looking at how to optimize the land resources of a country: do we view grasslands as just a grazing opportunity for open range stock or do they provide other environmental benefits? Discussion at the conference focused on the fact that grasslands offer a wealth of biodiversity – both in species growing above ground and also in the micro-organisms in the soil. It’s a rich bank of biodiversity that we all need to think about how to utilize and preserve for future generations.
With Dr A. Pattanayak, Director of ICAR-VPKAS
I co-chaired the first session prior to the launch of the Congress with Dr A. Pattanayak, Director of ICAR-Vivekananda Parvatiya Krishi Anusandhan Sansthan (VPKAS) based in Almora, Uttarakhand. His organization is engaged in hill agricultural research for the North-Western Himalayan region of India.
Picture of ICRISAT shipment containers in the Svalbard vault
Many of you may have seen news reports a few weeks ago of the first significant withdrawal of seeds from the so called “Doomsday Vault” – the Svalbard Global Seed Vault supervised by the Norwegian government on behalf of the rest of the world – which stores seeds from nearly all the known essential food crops on the planet as a backup in the event of a global crisis or environmental catastrophe.
This withdrawal occurred when ICARDA – which was forced in 2012 to move its base from Aleppo in Syria to Lebanon – requested the return of some of the germplasm it had previously placed in the vault and no longer has access to in the region. Read more →