Remembering Ken Mishra-The Maize Guru
This article is written by Mr. Dharmender Kumar, who has been a true friend of Late Mr. Ken Mishra for 15 years now (and will always have him in his heart), also has been serving seed industry for more than 35 years. He is very passionate about raising productivity of Rice and corn. He has served in India, Nigeria and Vietnam.
“There is a small sleepy village of 1800 population called Janarh in Bihar which used to get ravaged by floods every year. Born in this village on 10th November,1948 in a Gandhian Mahender Narayan Mishra’s family, a child named Kamendra Narayan Mishra went on to become a techno commercial maize breeder, entrepreneur and coach who was fondly called as “Ken” by his bosses, peers and subordinates.
From his graduation in agriculture in 1968 from Sabour (Bihar), post-graduation from Pant Nagar, mentored by Dr Surinder Mohan Sehgal (Suri); Ken went on to head not only research programs across three continents but also adored board meetings of Pioneer seeds subsidiaries in many countries. Like his Guru Suri; he also coached several breeders who now adore research farms in several seed companies of repute, be it MNC’s or homegrown Indian companies. He believed in conventional breeding than modern tools of genetic Engineering for raising yields of corn. He used to have occasional banters on social media with proponents of Genetic Engineering and believed that we have not exploited even 5% diversity of corn through conventional breeding. So there is enough room to first develop high yielding corn through conventional breeding than costly Genetic Engineering which is monopolized by MNC’s due to their financial might and cannot be afforded by small to medium sized seed enterprises in India.
His pipe dream was to develop dwarf corn and high oil corn for import substitution of palm oil. Corn can be grown everywhere in India from hilly areas of Jammu and Sikkim, plains of North to Deccan Plateau whereas palm cannot. I introduced him to a science loving chairman of a 4 billion dollar conglomerate in India to support this dream and association was continuing for last 10 years. Dwarf corn to raise plant density and consequent yield is a reality through his company Profarm Seeds and his wife of 20 years, Mary Ann Magsaysay is staying in Hyderabad to take it to fields in India, Nepal and Bangladesh. Maize farmers, specially in Vietnam will be ever indebted to him as he was the one who introduced hybrid corn to them through Bioseed Genetics Vietnam in 1992.Such was the curiosity developed by demonstration planted by him that Prime minister Phan Van Khai visited the demo field with whole cabinet in attendance in July, 1992.Corn yields in Vietnam are better than India no He has the credit of taking corn to Philippines and Indonesia as well He took up the gauntlet of developing Downey Mildew tolerant thrown by Dr William Brown then chairman of Pioneer Hi-bred Inc in 1975 and realized it by 1978.
He will be also remembered for signing Producer-Distributor agreements with small companies across Asia, Africa and Latin America. This gave genesis to concept of outsourcing research in seed and gave access to technology of giant Pioneer. Now those small companies have grown to be companies of repute in India, South Africa, Philippines and Japan. My coaching to be a techno commercial seedman started with him since March 8,1988 in a field in Samastipur (Bihar) and continued till his passing away to his heavenly abode on 29th September,2021 in Philippines. You will be missed by Seed industry dear Ken.
Source – Dharmendar Kumar