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).
Vikram Jain, the Canadian Trade Commissioner with a special interest in educational tie ups, told me of a project where British Columbia universities in Canada were providing support for engineering assessments across India … testing the safety of bridges and other such structures. Canada has a long history of educational collaboration with India and we discussed the potential for working closely with their universities on innovations in engineering especially around unmanned aerial vehicles to support agriculture.
Shyam Khadka is the FAO Representative in India. He told me his organisation is partnering with the Andhra Pradesh government in southern India on ways to promote sustainable development in villages across this region. As many of you would know, ICRISAT is also partnering with the AP government on a number of measures to accelerate food production; so I talked to Shyam about working in concert to support the AP government’s aim to achieve double digit growth per year.
Madhu Krishnan is the ITC Hotels Executive Chef in charge of Research Innovation and Development and her aim is to promote sustainable nutritious food within their portfolio of food offerings. She was keen to seek ICRISAT’s support in looking at how to create economic opportunities for smallholder farmers through the ways that ITC procures food.
I was impressed with both her creative approach to setting out the hotel menu and educating their customers on good nutrition and the diversity of foods needed to support that and also with her push for ITC to be socially conscious about their own environmental footprint.
Another recent event I attended was with the Telangana State Co-operative Apex Bank. The bank specialises in loans to farmers and rural community organisations; but whilst they know who they are giving the loan to they currently don’t know the area of the farm, the production system used or what crops they grow. They want ICRISAT’s assistance in tracking this information so that they can better serve their customers and aggregate farmers to access more equitable markets and increase their profitability.
So as you can see our organisation’s reputation and breadth of experience crosses many paths! It’s an indication that in the future there are multiple opportunities for us to establish partnerships and links with many diverse organisations … in industry, finance, communications and the education sector … to continue to make a real difference in the lives of rural farmers and rural communities across India.