Inclusive and demand-driven innovation is the key to fighting poverty, eradicating hunger and malnutrition, and providing environmentally sustainable solutions to challenges faced by smallholder farmers in the drylands, said Dr David Bergvinson while assuming the office of the Director General of International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Hyderabad.
Dr Bergvinson, who succeeded Dr William Dar as Director General, further emphasized: “In tackling the poverty challenge persisting in the drylands of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, innovation has to be driven by the demands of farmers and markets, and must recognise the important role of women and youth to enable inclusive market-oriented development.”
Dr Bergvinson articulated his passion and commitment for smallholder agriculture, and a strong desire to improve the lives of the hundreds of millions of impoverished smallholder farmers and their families living in the drylands.
Laying down the foundation of his leadership, he said: “I am highly committed to the success of ICRISAT. We are on a journey together to lift smallholder farmers in the drylands out of poverty by leveraging the very best that science and innovation can offer them.”
“We must focus on what smallholder farmers need – improved varieties, agronomic practices and market opportunities – and work and think collectively to integrate and deliver our science-based solutions to the national level through partnerships. We also have to face the challenge of rejuvenating agriculture to bring back the youth into the sector by making it more productive and profitable, and to ensure food security for all,” Dr Bergvinson defined the future course of ICRISAT.
Dr Bergvinson also committed to redouble and strengthen ICRISAT’s efforts in Africa, citing the Governing Board’s decision to invest US$ 5 million towards upgrading research infrastructure and building scientific skills on the African continent.
Prior to his appointment at ICRISAT, Dr Bergvinson was with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, USA, as Senior Program Officer, Crop Value Chains and Digital Design for Agriculture Development. He was responsible in accelerating the development and delivery of farmer-preferred products and services for staple crops in the developing world through formulating strategies, forging partnerships and applying digital technologies.