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Understanding local needs and looking to the future: A visit to the BISA sites

BISA-India-visit-Day-2-088During 21 January-05 February, a delegation consisting of Director General Thomas Lumpkin, Global Wheat Program Associate Director and Head of Pathology, Etienne Duveiller, Board member Andy Barr, and Development Officer Cheraé Robinson travelled from El Batán to visit the three sites of the newly established Borlaug Institute for South Asia (BISA). They were accompanied by Ajai Kumar and Raj Gupta, from CIMMYT’s New Delhi office.

Duveiller, who will be relocating from Mexico to India as the Head of Research for BISA stated “it is amazing what has been done in such a short span of time. But there is still a great deal of work to do and very exciting opportunities for research in a fast changing environment —not only economically in India, but also considering global change and climate change.”

The visit offered an opportunity not only for the delegation to gain an understanding of the new institute, but also to speak with local farmers about their concerns and specific challenges they are experiencing in their region. The group met with agricultural producers, students of the local agricultural universities, and state agricultural research institutes to develop ties with local stakeholders and understand the challenges and needs currently facing communities surrounding the BISA sites.

Towards the end of the visit, Lumpkin also participated in a gathering in Bihar, which brought together over 1,000 farmers from India’s poorest state to address current shortcomings and needs of agricultural producers in the region. The event gathered not only local producers, but also government officials and representatives including Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar and Mangala Rai, Agriculture Advisor to the Chief Minister of Bihar.
BISA was officially launched on 05 October 2011. In less than four months, the three BISA sites have begun research activities, a process which has included demarcating the boundaries of the properties and preparing the land and seeding. The official groundbreaking ceremony for the sites will be held later this year.