Dr. K. Keshavulu, President, International Seed Testing Association & Managing Director, Telangana State Seed Organisations, has been bestowed with the esteemed Dr. M S Swaminathan Award for Environment Protection-2022, by the Rotary Club of Madras East and M S Swaminathan Research Foundation on August 08, 2022 at Chennai, Tamilnadu.
Dr. M. S. Swaminathan Award for Environment Protection is a prestigious award instituted by the Rotary Club of Madras East in association with the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation in the name of globally most acclaimed Agricultural Scientist, Dr. M S Swaminathan. This award is being presented on annual basis to the exceptional individuals and the organisations, who have made significant contributions in the field of sustainable agriculture and environmental protection, either directly or indirectly, through their works in any part of the world.
On August 08, 2022, His Excellency Hon’ble Governor of Tamil Nadu Shri RN Ravi has conferred this Award to Dr. Keshavulu for the year 2022.
The award is in recognition of Dr. Keshavulu’s great contributions in the field of sustainable agriculture development and environment protection, as well as towards the development of inclusive seed systems, global seed policies, quality assurance, seed science research and education, international seed trade, support to global agriculture and the cause of food security.
Dr. Keshavulu is an undisputed global seed leader and he is the first ever person from India (and Asia) to become the President of prestigious international organisation i.e., International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) (2019 to 2025) with a mission to disseminate seed knowledge through modern technologies and innovative approaches towards the sustainable seed as well as food production systems.
Dr. Keshavulu is having more than 25 years of experience in seed sector development, seed research, policies, sustainable agriculture, organic farming, food security etc. He has made significant contributions towards the sustainable increase in the agriculture productions that have heightened the environmental protection and awareness among the farming community. His contributions have received wide acceptance and appreciation both at National and International level.
He has contributed to the Telangana State becoming known as the Seed Capital of India and the focus on Telangana State as a Global Seed Hub by providing a strategic and scientific vision that enables access of quality seeds to the farmers with well adopted improved crop varieties. This is being facilitated through quality seed production and certification of seeds supplied to Indian states besides facilitating exports to other countries.
His endeavours in the last two and half decades, have helped in bringing several policy reforms at global and national levels that have facilitated the sustainable agriculture development and greatly contributed to the global food security and fighting for #ZeroHunger (SDG Goal 2).
Dr. Keshavulu will be the second Indian scientist to receive this award after Dr. R S Paroda, former Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). It is noteworthy that among the earlier recipients of this award are Dr David Bergvinson, former Director General of ICRISAT, Dr Ismail Seragaldin, former Vice-President of Sustainable Development at the World Bank, Dr Jeffrey Sachs, former Head, Earth Institute, Columbia University, Dr. Sartaj Aziz, former Foreign Minister and Principal Advisor to Prime Minister of Pakistan, and Dr Bruce Alberts, former President, National Academy of Sciences, USA.
His Excellency Hon’ble Governor of Tamilnadu Shri R N Ravi has congratulated Dr. Keshavulu and appreciated his contributions to the sustainable food production through the assessment of seed quality as a driver for improved access to quality seeds as the first President from the Asian region.
His Excellency Hon’ble Governor of Tamilnadu, in his remarks underlined the need to enhance the food production to feed the growing population by using sustainable agricultural approaches and efficient seed systems. His Excellency acknowledged that seed sector development is of utmost important for the success agriculture in any country. Besides, seed sector and agriculture development, in the face of changing climate and global warming, the environment protection must be emphasised through ensuring sustainability in agriculture.
Dr. Keshavulu, after accepting the award mentioned that “the vision of hunger-free world is still a yet-to-be-achieved goal by the global agriculture scientific community and policymakers. Agricultural development is one of the most powerful tools to end extreme poverty, and malnutrition, boost shared prosperity and feed a projected 9.7 billion people by 2050.
Dr. Keshavulu mentioned that, the Agricultural production systems worldwide are facing unprecedented challenges to feed an ever-growing population. To be sustainable, agriculture, including private sector players, must meet the needs of present and future generations. So, focusing on ensuring sustainability in agriculture is very important, to meet the needs of existing and future generations, while also ensuring profitability, social equity, and environmental protection.
Praising Prof. M S Swaminathan for his contribution to Indian Agriculture sector, and changing the lives of millions of farmers in India as well as in many other countries through his vision of sustainable agriculture with emphasis on modern technologies to feed ever-growing population.
Dr. Keshavulu said ‘green revolution’ that increased food production & reduced poverty, is the phenomenal change in Indian Agriculture a change unparalleled in any part of the world that has transformed India from a food importer to a food exporter and self-sufficiency through environment-friendly technologies.
Dr. Keshavulu, highlighted that the farmers must have access to seeds for more productive, nutritious, and climate-resilient crop varieties if they are to produce the 50 percent more food needed for a global population predicted to reach nearly ten billion by 2050. Therefore, Quality seeds are the foundation of agri-food and a great contribution to securing higher crop yields.
Dr. Keshavulu in his remarks stated that the global seed market is estimated to be valued at USD 63.0 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach USD 86.8 billion by 2026, with a CAGR of 6.6% due to the growing demand for seeds from the food, beverage, animal feed, and biofuels industry along with the growing technological advancements including GM seeds.
He mentioned that there is a paradigm shift in farming practices worldwide that has necessitated the adoption of commercially produced enhanced seed varieties by the farmers instead of using farm-saved seeds. Similarly, the Indian seed industry has experienced outstanding growth in the past few decades and emerged as the 5th largest seed market in the world, accounting for about 5.0 % of the global seed market.
Dr. Keshavulu emphasised that the seed sector in India has a strong domestic base on which it has grown and continues to grow rapidly. However, further development of seed system capacity and capabilities are now needed to create an Indian seed sector that is truly a global player and can export quality seed to the world farmer. This is to ensure that seed is being produced of the quality needed to access export markets, but it will also mean that domestic seed users, predominantly farmers, are consistently receiving the high-quality seed.
He mentioned that the Government efforts must be directed toward sustainable agriculture using efficient seed systems. So, in order to enhance food production systems, we should not forget to strengthen the seed sector to provide quality seeds in line with developed seed industries besides the environment’s role and its protection. To realize this potential, governments must enact the enabling policies, underpinning regulations, and functional implementing institutions that support private/public partnerships to ensure the establishment of robust seed industries delivering quality affordable seeds of preferred staple and commercial crops that are fit for purpose in the farming systems.
In the Award ceremony, Mr. TV Rama Kumar, President of Rotary Club of Madras East, Mr. M. Nachiappan, Director of Environment, Rotary Club of Madras East, Dr Parasuraman, and Dr. Hariharan of MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, and several members of the Rotary Club were present.