India, UK sign MoU on joint crop research

India and the United Kingdom have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on a joint research programme aimed at sustainable crop production.

The Department of Biotechnology and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) signed the MoU with Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC) and the Department for International Development (DFID) of the UK today.

The MoU on a new initiative on `Food security: Sustainable crop production research for international development' also provides for a joint funding initiative with the aim of underpinning scientific knowledge that will increase food security and alleviate poverty.

The initiative will also forge productive global partnerships between scientists in the UK and India with those from other developing countries to leverage high quality biological and biotechnological research for sustainable crop production in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The programme will involve a total spending of an estimated 20 million pounds over a period of five years. This fund will be used to support the development of scientific knowledge and the building of sustainable research capacity that will benefit emerging economies and the developing world, an official release said.

The MoU will subsequently be followed up by a joint call for proposals on sustainable crop production, which will be open for research proposals from international teams of scientists from India and the whole of South Asia, the UK and Sub-Sahara Africa.

Announcing the initiative Kapil Sibal, who is in also in charge of the science and technology portfolio, and his UK counterpart David Willetts reiterated the commitment of their respective countries towards closer cooperation and a cohesive relationship in the area.

The collaboration on global food security would harness the expertise available in UK, India, sub-Saharan Africa and the Southeast Asian region for providing global solutions to the formidable challenge of food security the ministers said. They also expect the agreement to create a foundation for future collaborations in the area.