Bridging Innovation and Implementation: A Collaborative Leap Forward with the Government of India in Transforming Agriculture

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The Government of India recently hosted a significant workshop that brought together representatives from CGIAR centers across India to showcase groundbreaking technologies and innovations ready for immediate scaling, with the goal of aligning these innovations with India’s existing priorities and plans to support the national agenda for agri-food systems transformation.

Building on the success of last year’s meeting, this workshop further solidified the partnership between CGIAR and the Government of India. Organized for the second time in two years, it highlights the Government of India’s recognition of the value in collaborating with CGIAR to bring global technologies that address local agricultural challenges. Chaired by Mr. Manoj Ahuja, Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, the event marked a significant step in CGIAR’s evolving relationship with the Government of India. The active participation of additional and joint secretaries from the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (DA&FW) underscored a strong commitment to leveraging international expertise and the collective strength of CGIAR centers to drive agricultural transformation in India.

Building on last year’s momentum

The workshop began with a detailed presentation by the respective additional and joint secretaries from various departments on the status of technologies selected from the previous year’s meeting. Mr. Ahuja highlighted the significant progress made, stating, “We have benefitted significantly from last year’s interactions, adopting many of the technologies. CGIAR’s flexibility allows rapid implementation with fewer barriers, bringing these innovations to farmers swiftly.”

Consistent with CGIAR’s commitment made during the Listening Sessions, the attendees engaged in candid discussions on enhancing collaboration between CGIAR and DA&FW. They focused on improving their partnership, identifying existing roadblocks, and developing strategies to overcome them. This aligns with CGIAR’s dedication to being a more effective partner and underscores DA&FW’s initiative to ensure the successful delivery and scaling of these technologies.

Highlights of this year’s workshop

Technologies developed by CGIAR institutes in India, globally, or in collaboration with the National Agri Research System (NARS), were thoroughly discussed for their readiness and potential impact. The aim was to provide input into DA&FW’s 100-day plan, identify specific technologies for immediate and near-future scaling, and discuss potential geographies and timelines for deployment.

The workshop provided a platform to present technologies and innovations meeting several critical criteria: successfully piloted and tested technologies, innovations ready for scaling up, scalable and impactful innovations providing economic benefits to farmers, and digital or GIS-based technologies that enhance efficiency and promote climate-smart agriculture. Technologies spanning crop improvement, digital agriculture, seed systems, climate mitigation and adaptation and natural resource management were showcased by CGIAR centers in India, including Alliance, CIMMYT, CIP, ICARDA, ICRISAT, ILRI, IRRI, and IWMI. These innovations, already at the pilot stage and tested in the CGIAR network, could begin scaling in India within the next 12-18 months.

Medium-term technologies, currently at the research and inception stage or tested elsewhere in the CGIAR network, were also presented. These could be piloted in India within the next 24-36 months. Attendees were deeply engaged, asking pertinent questions and expressing strong interest in making this workshop an annual event. “Sharing information on international crop advancements and knowledge within a 1-3 year horizon is essential. Additionally, we need to know about the states we are working in to ensure coordinated efforts,” Ahuja emphasized.

Planning for the future

Temina Lalani-Shariff, the Regional Director for South Asia, emphasized the importance of these partnerships. “Being able to draw from the global breadth of innovations available across CGIAR allows us to respond effectively to India’s agricultural priorities and goals. This unique capability enables us to make significant and impactful difference in the Indian agricultural sector with greater efficiency,” she said.

The consensus for an annual workshop was strong. “Starting the year with this meeting can set the tone for our activities. This meeting should be concise and focused, providing an overview of the work. This approach allows us to identify the technologies that the respective departments and secretaries are interested in, facilitating further discussion and scaling,” Ahuja suggested.

The workshop encouraged open dialogue, enabling representatives to address their questions and seek necessary information. Sreenath Dixit, the country convenor for India for CGIAR, facilitated the discussions, ensuring a smooth exchange of ideas. A proposal was put forth to form a committee for continuous engagement between CGIAR and DA&FW, promoting ongoing collaboration.

Conclusion and future steps

The workshop concluded with a strengthened sense of direction and a roadmap for the future. The technologies presented were not just innovations; they were solutions ready to address the challenges faced by farmers across India.

Sreenath summarized the day’s essence, “Today’s discussions highlighted that combining our efforts, knowledge, and resources can significantly enhance the agricultural sector. This is just the beginning. It was an excellent collaborative opportunity for all CGIAR centers to work together, plan effectively, and ensure that each center’s voice is heard. This underscores the importance of our collective efforts.”

With a strong foundation and commitment to continuous improvement, the innovations from this workshop are set to make a significant contribution to agricultural advancement in India.

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