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.
I was encouraged by the level of high institutional representation at the meeting, with over 90 participants from across the country that represented different commodities and systems that are important for national food and nutritional security and environmental sustainability in India.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shown a clear sense of urgency for convergence to tackle the challenges of nutritional security in India. He has put farmer welfare at the center of the agenda for the country and so the CGIAR clearly has a critical role to play in collaboration with national partners including civil society and the private sector to realize the outputs of science in farmers’ fields.
I was encouraged by:
- The positive attitude of all the participants and their contributions in a constructive way to achieve our agenda of integration for impact.
- The recognition that the CGIAR is working with a broad set of partners including the Department of Agriculture and state governments in order to realize that vision.
- A drive towards a systems approach to offer equitable and sustainable solutions for small holder farmers in India.
As far as the site integration process is concerned – I truly believe it’s the right approach. We took it upon ourselves to own what should be the output of site integration to make sure that it is practical, tangible and leads to better outcomes.
I was encouraged by constructive contributions of national programs and CGIAR partners to make that happen. To achieve all this, we held two sessions: one focused on the CGIAR research programs in which we updated our partners on each CRP and solicited their feedback on how these can be improved to better serve the needs of Indian farmers and consumers.
In the afternoon we focused on geographies (states) where we bring all of these programs together in one place. We clustered states based on similar agro-ecologies to facilitate that process.
Both sessions were necessary and productive towards realizing convergence of different CRP outputs and alignment of institutions to develop and deliver integrated solutions to empower smallholder farmers realize their full potential.
There is now a broader awareness within ICAR and national partners on the breadth of the CRP portfolio and extent of the CGIAR research agenda.
Coordinating our work at the state level will help us to recognize where the CGIAR can make strategic and valued contributions to the state agenda which obviously rolls up to the national agenda.
We are now working towards putting in place a framework that allows us to have visibility of who’s doing what where and to what end with our partners and with what resources. This will help us maximize our collective impact on small holder farmers. It will also, I believe, serve as a framework for learning about the science of delivery in accelerating the delivery of demand-driven innovations into the hands of farmers.
Another outcome will be much more targeted funding by both the federal government and state governments in service of a focused and coordinated agenda that has an accountability framework and bias towards action and real impact.
Since I arrived in India a year ago, I feel a palpable sense of urgency by the government to respond to the needs of farmers. Prime Minster Modi recognizes that innovation will play a critical role in improving farmer welfare. In service of this vision, ICAR, state agricultural universities and the CGIAR need to come together with farmer’s organizations, civil society and private enterprises to make all of this happen.
I was very pleased with the meeting and recognize this is just the first step in a long journey towards implementation. But I think we’re heading in the right direction and I’m encouraged that we have the right spirit and partners on board to make it happen. Onward with urgency to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in India – together!