Professor Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology and Department of Biotechnology, India and Professor Stephen Toope, Vice-Chancellor, University of Cambridge, along with other researchers from the University of Cambridge and from various Indian research institutions met today in New Delhi to formalise the launch of TIGR2ESS – an acronym for “Transforming India’s Green Revolution by Research and Empowerment for Sustainable food Supplies”. The launch event took place in the context of a three-day workshop that brought together all the UK and India partners to discuss and finalise a plan for the programme’s effective implementation.
The adoption of modern methods and new technologies in agriculture that propelled India to self-sufficiency in grain production in the second half of the 20th century is known as the country’s “Green Revolution”. It allowed India to overcome poor agricultural productivity, especially in regions like the Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, although it relied on overuse of water, fertilisers and pesticides.
Today, climate change, continuing population growth and the rapid process of urbanisation have put added pressure on India’s ability to feed its population. TIGR2ESS is a £7.8 million programme funded by the UK Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) to develop more resilient, equal and diverse food systems in India. It aims to define the requirements for a second more sustainable Green Revolution, and to deliver this through a suite of research programmes, training workshops and educational activities.
"India is a diverse country, and negotiating this diversity is the key to developing any interventions. The TIGR2ESS programme takes into account this diversity, and that will define its success. We need to take a holistic view at the nexus between agriculture, environment, water, climate, energy and health" said Professor Ashutosh Sharma.
At the heart of the TIGR2ESS proposal are a series of Flagship Projects tackling fundamental research questions, and addressing the associated social issues facing farmers in the context of increasing urbanisation and climate change.
TIGR2ESS will support 14 postdoctoral researchers employed at partner research institutions and universities across India, as well as eight post-doctoral research associates from collaborating institutions in the UK. The programme will create 3-year research opportunities for a total of 22 early-career researchers in the UK and India, and also promote academic exchanges at all levels in laboratories across India and the UK.
One of TIGR2ESS’ objectives is to foster mutually beneficial knowledge exchange and collaborative research through workshops in Cambridge and India. In addition, it will deliver a programme of outreach, education and entrepreneurship. In doing so, TIGR²ESS will help strengthen Indian research capacity in key areas of the food system, and will contribute to the development of smart agriculture in India.
“TIGR2ESS will inform best practice in crop development and growth. It will empower women and entrepreneurs, and encourage innovation along the food supply chain. It will create opportunities for early-career researchers, and in doing so will contribute to India’s efforts to ensure it is able to meet the needs of its growing population. I am delighted that Cambridge is a part of this extraordinary initiative” remarked Professor Stephen J Toope about the collaboration.