Developing science with a human face

Hyderabad, Jan 4 | Updated: Jan 5 2006, 05:30am hrs
While committing to substantially contribute for attaining the millennium development goals (MDGs) through Science with a human face, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (Icrisat), under CGIAR, is fostering stronger partnerships with increased contributions. This translates to streamlined governance and elevated program profile, that is, re-focused vision and mission.

At the 93rd Indian Science Congress in Hyderabad on Wednesday, Icrisat director general William Dar said CGIAR research priorities till 2015 include sustaining biodiversity for current and future generations; producing more and better food at lower cost through genetic improvements; reducing rural poverty through agricultural diversification and emerging opportunities for high-value commodities and products; promoting poverty alleviation and sustainable management of water, land and forest resources; and improving policies and facilitating institutional innovation to support sustainable reduction of poverty and hunger.

Thanking the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) for granting close to $1 million to support 32 projects besides the RS Paroda Gene Bank in the last five years, Dr Dar said, Icrisat is committed to pursuing FAOs mission to help developing countries reduce the number of hungry people in the semi-arid tropics by half in 2015.

We do this by aligning our research programmes with the MDG and strategic focus is to empower the poor and become food secure, Dr Dar said. The task force on hunger enforces political action, policy reforms and enabling conditions and national and local action.

He elaborated that at the RS Paroda Genebank in Patancheru, Icrisat holds in trust under agreements with FAO more than 1,10,000 accessions of seeds of sorghum, pearl millet, chickpea, pigeonpea, groundnut and minor millets. This is 96% of the 114,870 accessions stored in the RS Paroda Genebank which is among the biggest public-funded international genebanks. Till date, Icrisat has supplied more than 672,000 accessions free of cost to scientists in 143 countries for their research.

Its no wonder that the semi-arid tropics have 45% of the worlds hungry and 70% malnourished children, Dr Dar said.