This week I was joined in New Delhi, India by CGIAR centers’ leaders and national program partners including our most important partner and host ICAR that was represented by the new Director General Dr. Trilochan Mohapatra as well as ICAR’s Deputy Director General of Crops Dr. JS Sandhu.
The gathering was to discuss site integration in India, which is part of the CGIAR’s larger efforts to identify national priorities and planned activities so we can align our CGIAR Research Program (CRP) proposals to support demand-driven innovation and effectiveness by optimizing our resources for impact in India through site integration plans. Read more →
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 →
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 →
This past week at the World Food Prize, I had the privilege of meeting Hunger Fighters of the past and future. This is a unique global forum that honors those who have contributed to humanity by following in the footsteps of Norman Borlaug to serve with passion, compassion and humility. There is a distinct feeling of innovation, partnerships and interdisciplinary teams – all coming together to improve the lives of farm families around the globe and to ensure safe, nutritious and accessible food for all.
This year that honor went to Sir Fazle Hasan Abed (standing next to me in the photo along with Dr. Kush the famous IRRI Rice Breeder), the founder of BRAC who nurtured the organization, staff and the people they serve, especially women and girls, to empower them to realize their full potential.
Starting off in Bangladesh in 1972, BRAC now operates in other parts of Asia and Africa, replicating its model of microfinance and empowerment, including helping the ultra-poor. I had the privilege of interacting with Sir Fazle recently at the Gates Foundation and was able to talk with him about collaboration with ICRISAT both in Africa and Asia. Sir Fazle is truly an inspiration to us all.