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5 March, 2018 - 15:48 By Kate Sweeney

Cambridge a key driver of India’s second ‘Green Revolution’

Cambridge University brainpower is helping India address some of its most pressing food security challenges.

The first ‘Green Revolution’ saw India adopt modern methods and new technologies in agriculture that propelled the nation to self-sufficiency in grain production in the second half of the 20th century, allowing India to overcome poor crop productivity.

Now Cambridge and other key partners at a summit in New Delhi have brokered a fresh blueprint to counter the added pressure climate change, continuing population growth and the rapid process of urbanisation have placed on India’s ability to feed its population.

TIGR²ESS – an acronym for Transforming India’s Green Revolution by Research and Empowerment for Sustainable food Supplies – is a £7.8 million programme funded by the UK Global Challenges Research Fund to develop more resilient, equal and diverse food systems in India.

The programme will support 14 post-doctoral researchers employed at partner research institutions and universities across India, as well as eight post-doctoral research associates from collaborating institutions in the UK. It will create three-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 the objectives is to foster mutually beneficial knowledge exchange and collaborative research through workshops in Cambridge and India. It will also deliver a programme of outreach, education and entrepreneurship to help develop truly smart agriculture in India.

Professor Stephen Toope, vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge, said: “TIGR²ESS will inform best practice in crop development and growth. It will allow greater genetic understanding of crop resilience to drought and disease. 

“It will contribute to more effective use of scarce water supplies. It will build capacity and foster education.”

“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.”

The university’s Professor Howard Griffiths, who is the programme’s principal investigator, added: “This unprecedented programme of joint activities will enable capacity building both in the UK and India and shape the policy needed to define a second Green Revolution for India.

“TIGR²ESS will address the challenges identified by our colleagues in India, and translate research outcomes to build agriculture systems that support sustainable livelihoods, enhancing the well-being and health of rural communities with a particular focus on improving the opportunities for equality, female empowerment and youth employment, and market-led entrepreneurial opportunities.”

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Professor Stephen Toope

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