Harisankar Nayak, a CIMMYT supported PhD student, received significant honors from the Government of India for his PhD thesis. The Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) – Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) recognized Nayak’s exceptional academic performance and thesis work during the 61st convocation ceremony held in New Delhi on February 24, 2023. The Vice President of India, Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar, presided over the ceremony. Nayak was awarded the IARI Merit medal for his thesis, “Machine learning evidence-based agronomic practices for higher yield and lower emission in rice-wheat system,” published in the esteemed journal Field Crops Research.
Nayak’s research involved comparing multiple machine learning methods to identify the primary drivers and causes of wheat yield variability in northwestern India. His findings provide important methodology to identify variables involved when one farm’s yield is less than a similar farm in the same area. With these variables classified, policymakers, government ministries, and farmers themselves can take steps to raise yield, sustainably, across the entire north-western Indo-Gangetic Plain.
Timothy Krupnik, Country Representative for Research and Partnerships and Systems Agronomist at CIMMYT-Bangladesh, and Nayak’s PhD supervisor from CIMMYT, expressed his pride in Nayak’s achievements. “I saw first-hand how much work he put into his research, and he richly deserves this honor. The same was opined by Dr C. M. Parihar, Nayak’s supervisor from IARI, Dr. M.L. Jat, former principal scientist, CIMMYT-India and Dr T B Sapkota, senior scientist, Agricultural System/Climate Change, CIMMYT. In addition, this is an excellent example of the capacity development work arising from CIMMYT’s collaborations with ICAR and IARI.”
Nayak also led research examining the sustainability of rice production in the same area of India, which determined that nitrogen use could be reduced without impacting rice yields. “To be recognized by ICAR and IARI, among many other worthy students, is a great honor,” said Nayak. “CIMMYT provided crucial material support, helping me facilitate my research. Just as important were the opportunities to collaborate with CIMMYT scientists.” Nayak’s work is vital for addressing the challenges posed by a changing climate and feeding a growing population.