28 Jun 2013
No. 1577

MS Swaminathan Leadership in Agriculture Award conferred on DG William D Dar

Director General Dr William D Dar receiving the MS Swaminathan Leadership in Agriculture Award for 2013 from Dr K Kasturirangan (2nd right), Member (Science), Planning Commission, Government of India. Also seen are Dr RS Paroda (far left) and Dr S Ayyappan (far right). Photo: ICRISAT

Director General Dr William D. Dar received the MS Swaminathan Award for Leadership in Agriculture for the year 2013 at an illustrious ceremony at the BP Pal Auditorium of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute in New Delhi on 24 June.

Conferring the award on Dr Dar, Chief Guest Dr K Kasturirangan, Member (Science), Planning Commission, Government of India, said, “Today Dr William D. Dar joins a select group of extraordinary minds who have influenced, in a major way, the developments in agricultural science and through the same global food security. Named after one of the legendary figures of Indian agriculture, Dr MS Swaminathan, the Father of India’s ‘Green Revolution’, this Award is India’s version of the World Food Prize.” 

Addressing a packed audience of senior scientists, students of agriculture and representatives of CGIAR institutes, Dr Kasturirangan commended Dr Dar’s contributions in the field of agricultural research, stating  “Needless to emphasize, the earlier awardees of this recognition are a list of who’s who among top researchers, who, besides making seminal contributions to this subject, have also helped India in meeting the challenges of realizing food self-sufficiency and giving it a unique global leadership in agriculture and associated endeavors. It is thus natural that Dr Dar has been selected by the Trust for Advancement of Agricultural Sciences (TAAS) as the awardee for this year, in recognition of his multidimensional and distinguished contributions as an eminent educationist, agriculturist, scientist, administrator and above all, a fine humanitarian. 

“Dr Dar’s leadership of ICRISAT has been transformational, and today this institution enjoys a reputation that places it among the top few centers of excellence recognized globally. I join everyone in this country, the scientific community and the agricultural scientists in particular, in extending my heartiest congratulations to Dr William D. Dar for this well-deserved recognition,” Dr Kasturirangan added.

Congratulating Dr Dar on the occasion, Dr S Ayyappan, Director General, ICAR said, “What we need today is leadership, mentoring and partnerships. Dr Dar, who has been leading ICRISAT for almost one and a half decades, has shown the importance of these. He is a very important Asian face in the CGIAR and knows what the farmer and markets are all about.”
Responding to the award, Dr Dar said, “I am deeply honored to receive this award. I consider this to be a major milestone in my professional life. I am humbled to be asked to join the list of outstanding awardees that have contributed so much to improving the human condition”.  

Director General WD Dar delivering his acceptance speech.

“This Award is about leadership. I believe that the most important task of a successful leader is to rally his team around a compelling vision of the future, and to have an effective strategy to bring that vision into reality,” Dr Dar added.

Highlighting ICRISAT’s vision, Dr Dar elaborated on the institute’s strategic approach called Inclusive Market-Oriented Development (IMOD). “IMOD has changed the static thinking. IMOD is a process of movement along a development pathway  from impoverished subsistence farming, to prosperous market-oriented farming. This movement is ‘ dynamic ’ and compelled us to put priority on innovations that would move  farmers from poverty to prosperity, instead of innovations that would leave them only a little less poor," he said .

In his message, Dr MS Swaminathan said, “I am happy that the Trust for Advancement of Agricultural Sciences has recognized the work of outstanding scientists as one of the methods of advancing the cause of scientific excellence and social relevance in agricultural research.

I am particularly happy that the award this year is going to Dr William D. Dar, Director General of ICRISAT.  Dr Dar is a pioneer in imparting a human face to scientific research and economic development.  What we need is the kind of leadership that Dr Dar is providing to ensure that science serves the cause of sustainable food security as well as human well-being and happiness.

Responding to the news, Mr Carlos Pérez del Castillo, Chair of the Consortium Board of the CGIAR Centers, said, “These are excellent news that make the CGIAR system very proud. My warmest congratulation for Willie and to all the scientists of ICRISAT for their excellent work.”

Congratulating Dr Dar on the honor, Nigel Poole, Chair, ICRISAT Governing Board, said, “It is often people who make the key difference and it is good to see Willie’s contribution recognised.”

TAAS Chairman Dr RS Paroda said, “Today’s award is presented to one of the illustrious sons of Asia, who has not only catalyzed the process for support to poor farmers in semi-arid tropics, but has also strengthened ICRISAT, which has grown immensely. Today’s award is very significant when we speak about food and nutritional security.”

Donor representative Rob Bertram, Director for the Office of Agriculture, Research and Policy, USAID’s Bureau for Food Security, said, “Great to see Willie (and ICRISAT) get this recognition.  The whole team at ICRISAT deserves tremendous credit for the important work they undertake in addressing global hunger, poverty, and a changing climate.”

Instituted by TAAS, the award is in honor of Dr MS Swaminathan, the architect of the Green Revolution in India and Chairman of the National Commission of Farmers, and recognizes those who have made great impact in the field of agriculture on a global basis, and in food security and sustainability of agriculture in India.  The present award is the seventh in the series. The first one was given to Dr Norman Borlaug, the famous agricultural scientist who was also a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Excerpts from the award citation

“His work has created great impact on the lives of resource poor farmers. Dr Dar has also actively promoted Public-Private-Farmer partnership linking strongly the end users with the National Agricultural Research System as well as International Agricultural Research Centers. Under his leadership, effective research collaboration has been established in areas like germplasm exchange, biotechnology, crop improvement, water conservation, capacity building, and policy….His passion is to help alleviate the socioeconomic conditions of the poor living in the semi-arid tropics of Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.”

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Platform for India-Africa Partnership in Agriculture announced

Dr S Ayyappan and Dr Dar at the announcement of the Platform for India-Africa Partnership in Agriculture, in New Delhi. Photo: Prasadrao, ICRISAT

Director General William Dar announced a “Platform for India-Africa Partnership in Agriculture (PIAPA)” at a “Roundtable meeting on South-South Initiative for Improving Agriculture in India and Africa” held in New Delhi on 24 June. The meeting was jointly organized by ICRISAT, the International Agriculture Consulting Group (IACG) and Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). 

Delivering the opening remarks, Director General William Dar said, “PIAPA provides a platform for focused and systematic international relationships critical for a more effective and inclusive development cooperation between India and Africa.  ICRISAT, ICAR and IACG govern the PAIPA platform and bring various stakeholders on board as consortium partners to create better policies, more effective institutions, improved infrastructure, and better access to markets and to higher quality inputs, particularly for dryland farmers in India and Africa.”  

Speaking on the occasion, Dr S Ayyappan, Director General, ICAR opined, “India is committed to agricultural development in Africa, and the partnerships under the PIAPA platform significantly contribute to South-South initiative activities for improving agriculture in Africa”. IACG president Dr MJ Khan highlighted the strengths of the partner organizations and highlighted how PIAPA would significantly enhance the engagement between India and the African continent. Dr Dileepkumar Guntuku, Global Leader, Knowledge Sharing and Innovation program and  ICRISAT Coordinator for South-South Initiative (IS-SI), elucidated on how ICRISAT executes various IS-SI activities through science-led innovations, Agri-business incubation centers, food processing clusters and knowledge-centered learning innovations. Mr Ravi Bangar, Joint Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs shared the details of India’s engagement with Africa that are under implementation.  He assured the Ministry’s full support to activities to be undertaken under IS-SI. 

Among those who participated in the deliberations were high-level delegates including Ambassadors from African embassies; officials from the Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Agriculture; Director Generals of ICRISAT, ICAR, IMD; representatives from ICRISAT, ILRI, CIP; USAID, NABARD; Deputy Director Generals, Vice Chancellors of universities and Directors of government organizations, NGOs and the private sector.   The event was coordinated by Dr MJ Khan; Dr Narendra Kumar, Director, Country Relations and Business Affairs; and Dr Dileepkumar Guntuku.

ICRISAT’s IS-SI website http://www.is-si.icrisat.org and IS-SI brochure http://goo.gl/6yHiF were launched during this event .

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ICRISAT’s research figures prominently in conference on advances in groundnut genomics

Participants at the conference listen keenly as Dr R Varshney delivers his presentation.
Photos: M Pandey, ICRISAT

Leading groundnut scientists from ICRISAT had the opportunity to participate in the sixth International Conference of The Peanut Research Community on Advances in Arachis through Genomics and Biotechnology (AAGB) held in Zhengzhou, China from 17-21 June. AAGB is a forum that fosters and aligns research activities with the International Peanut Genomic Research Initiative Strategic Plan (2012-2016). This year’s event provided an update on Arachis genome sequencing activities.

Speaking on Genomics-assisted breeding in peanut: Present status and future prospects in the session on The Peanut Genome Project, Dr Rajeev Varshney, Director, Centre of Excellence in Genomics (CEG) said, “With the groundnut genome sequence expected to be available by the end of 2013, groundnut researchers should be ready to use the immense wealth of information generated through it (both the diploid genomes -- A- and B-genome) to address genetic bottlenecks and important issues such as aflatoxin contamination”. He underlined the need to bring down phenotyping costs in order to realise the full potential of genomics, described ICRISAT’s work with genome sequencing initiatives led by USA and China and elaborated on the international initiative on genome wide association study that UC-Davis and ICRISAT are co-leading with 11 organizations from three countries.

Among the others from ICRISAT who spoke at the conference were Assistant Research Program Director- Grain Legumes and Principal Scientist and Head Gene Bank Drs Hari Upadhyaya on core and minicore collections and reference set for crop improvement;    P Janila on Integrated molecular breeding for enhanced resistance to diseases and quality parameters in peanut; Shivali Sharma on Peanut genetic enhancement through pre-breeding and genomics and Manish Pandey on Marker-assisted introgression of major QTL showed high resistance to leaf rust in the genetic background of elite peanut cultivars.

The conference featured three sessions co-chaired by ICRISAT’s Director for West and Central Africa Dr Farid Waliyar, Dr Hari Upadhyaya and Dr Rajeev Varshney and poster presentations by ICRISAT scientist.

Members of the Peanut Genome Sequencing Executive Committee (Drs Waliyar and Varshney from ICRISAT) along with the rest of the team also participated in the Executive Committee meeting. Dr Varshney also explored collaborative opportunities with the Shandong Peanut Research Institute in Qingdau, Institute of Peanut, Jilian Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and Shofine Seeds Company.

The conference was attended by about 170 scientists. The next conference will be held in the USA.

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ICRISAT presents its take on biomass at European Biomass Conference in Copenhagen

Dr P Srinivasa Rao making a presentation.
Photo: Cosstte, WIP Germany

ICRISAT had the opportunity to present its take on biomass at the 21st European Biomass Conference and exhibition held in Copenhagen, Denmark on 3-7 June. Representing ICRISAT was Dr P Srinivasa Rao, Senior Scientist, sorghum Breeding, Research Program – Dryland Cereals, who delivered a presentation on “Studies on GxE interaction in tropical sweet sorghum under terminal moisture stress” authored by Sweetfuel project partners.

Emphasizing the significant GxE interaction for candidate traits like Brix, juice yield, and stalk yield, particularly under drought conditions, Dr Rao highlighted the multipurpose use of sweet sorghum. He also delivered a talk on ‘‘Sweetfuel - Status of sweet sorghum commercialization’’ at a side even on Strengthening Networking on Biomass Research and Biowaste Conversion – Biotechnology for Europe India Integration and took part in the project review meeting of Biolyfe, where he shared the progress of the Indo-US Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Centre Project.

The conference organized by ETA-Florence Renewable Energies, Italy, with support from the European Commission, UNESCO, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, European Biomass Industry Association, World Council of Renewable Energy and Joint Research Centre, saw more than 800 participants from Europe, North America, Asia and Australia participating.

Chairing the inaugural session, Mr K Maniatis of the European Commission highlighted the need for renewable energy. Dario Giordano of Chemtex shared details of the first commercial ligno-cellulosic bioethanol plant being operated in Cresentino, Italy based on wheat and rice stover, with plans to use sorghum stover. Among the others who spoke at the conference were   M Lidegaard, Danish Minister of Climate, Energy and Building; Peder H Nielsen, President, Novozymes; and I Landalv, Chemrec, Sweden.

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Agriculture and Agri-food fair showcases ICRISAT innovations

Minister Ibrahim Yacouba at the
ICRISAT exhibit stall. Photo: S Djibo, ICRISAT
  Women having a look at products exhibited.
Photo: S Djibo, ICRISAT

ICRISAT-Niamey participated in the Second International Agriculture and Agri-food Fair held from 17-20 June at the Palais du 29 juillet, Niamey, with an exhibition stall showcasing its activities through publications, posters, seeds and crops. This year’s theme was Food security and regional integration.

The fair’s objective was to contribute to achieving food security and to fight extreme poverty and malnutrition in Niger; ensure environmental sustainability and establish regional partnership for development. Institutions, NGOs, producers and womens’ associations participated in this event which gave an opportunity for farmers and producers from ECOWAS countries to share their experiences in agriculture, agribusiness and pastoral sectors.

The fair was inaugurated by His Excellency Ibrahim Yacouba, Niger’s Minister of Transport who is in charge of the Ministry of Agriculture. It was organized by the NGO Action and Development.

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Training program for new Business Planning and Development units of ICAR

SM Karuppanchetty conducting a session for the participants.
Photo: P Sivakumar, ICRISAT

As part of its handholding and mentoring project with the National Agricultural Innovation Project of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, the Agri Business Incubator Program of AIP–ICRISAT together with the Tamilnadu Agricultural University, conducted a training on Business Incubation at the University in Coimbatore on 18-21 June. Asia Pacific Incubator Network (APIN) was the knowledge partner in this program.

With 10 Business Planning and Development (BPD) units having been handheld and mentored till now, and 12 new ones of ICAR institutions, the count of incubators aided by the Agri Business Incubator Program of AIP – ICRISAT has gone up to 22 for the financial year 2013-14.

Twenty-two participants from National Academy of Agricultural Research Management, Hyderabad; Indian Institute of Horticultural Research, Bengaluru; The Central Institute of Post-Harvest Engineering and Technology, Ludhiana; National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal; Central Institute of Agricultural Engineering, Bhopal; Central Road Research Institute, Cuttack; Central Plantation Crops Research Institute, Kasaragod; Central Power Research Institute, Shimla; Indian Institute of Vegetable Research, Varanasi; Indian Institute of Spices Research, Calicut; Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture, Bhubaneswar; and Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture, Chennai took part in the training.

The topics discussed included the basics of business incubation, technology evaluation, Intellectual Property Rights and business incubation, funding for start-ups, and incubator client management.

The training program included two modules of InfoDev incubator management conducted by Mr. Julian Webb, InfoDev and Ms Preethi, NIT – Calicut; Skype calls, visit to the TNAU BPD facilities, and client interactions with resource persons from Wifin Technologies, ICRISAT, NAARM, Bioseed, Dr P Sivasubramaniam and Dr KN Selvaraj (TNAU).

The training resulted in sensitizing the participants to Agri-Business Incubators and  opportunities for setting up agri business incubators in ICAR institutes.

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Creating opportunities for women entrepreneurs in food processing business

Mr SM Karuppanchetty delivering a presentation on food processing technologies to women entrepreneurs. Photo: S Vemu, ICRISAT

Over 110 women entrepreneurs took part in a workshop on ‘Creating opportunities for women entrepreneurs in food processing business’’ held at  ALEAP Industrial Estate on 12 June. Organized by the Agri-Business Incubation (ABI) program of ICRISAT as part of its partnership with the Association of Lady Entrepreneurs of Andhra Pradesh (ALEAP), the event served as a platform for enterprising women to explore business opportunities, explore ways to market food products (domestic and international), find potential buyers, and discover funding opportunities in the food processing sector.

While Dr Saikat Datta Mazumdar, Chief Operating Officer NutriPlus Knowledge Program, spoke on food processing technologies related to ICRISAT’s mandate crops, Mr Karuppanchetty elucidated on food processing technologies from the Indian National Agricultural Research Systems. Dr PS Raju, Officer Incharge - Business Development & IP Coordinator, Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology spoke on the funding opportunities available to women entrepreneurs in food processing.

Among the other topics discussed were products and buy-back models (Mrs Jaishree, Chief Financial Officer, Sresta Organics); and franchise models and opportunities for women entrepreneurs [Mr Samba Murthy, Head - Sales & Marketing and Mr P Brahmaiah, Head - Sales & Marketing (Dairy), Heritage Foods].

Eight entrepreneurs participated in the B2B sessions and showcased their products for buy-back arrangements with Sresta Organics. The ABI program received 25 Letters of Intent to avail of start-up support to set up food processing businesses.

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