The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has named eminent agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan and badminton star Saina Nehwal its ambassadors of goodwill.
ICRISAT Director General William Dar conferred the recognition on them at a ceremony held Monday at the ICRISAT global headquarters at Patancheru near here.
They agreed to champion the ICRISAT’s mission to make a difference by promoting science-based agricultural solutions in the fight against poverty, hunger, malnutrition and environmental degradation in the dryland tropics of the world.
“Inclusive agriculture is the key to a prosperous, food secure and resilient dryland tropics. By giving smallholder farmers access to technologies and connecting them to markets, they will have options for a more profitable and resilient agriculture towards achieving sustainable food, nutrition, economic and environmental security,” said Swaminathan, father of India’s green revolution.
He underlined the need for crop biofortification to combat ahidden hunger’ caused by micronutrient deficiencies prevailing in the developing world.
Swaminathan, who was one of the architects of ICRISAT’s creation in 1972, lauded the role being played by ICRISAT in empowering resource-poor farmers in marginalized environments.
Saina Nehwal said as an athlete, she can help make people understand and appreciate the nutritional importance of ICRISAT crops such as millets and sorghum, and grain legumes such as chickpea, pigeonpea and groundnut.
“I strongly believe these crops are important for both poor farmers and consumers because of their high nutritional value and for a diverse diet and farming, and are critical in fighting malnutrition and food insecurity,” the top shuttler said.
“The world will have to feed 10 billion people by 2050. Today, a billion people are hungry and about 3 billion are not eating well. To overcome poverty, hunger, malnutrition and environmental degradation, science is an essential component that must be behind all our efforts,” said Dar.
The ICRISAT Ambassadors of Goodwill program was launched last year with Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, becoming the first ambassador during his visit to ICRISAT.
Bill Gates has since been joined by former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, former prime minister of New Zealand James Bolger and others.