Harnessing Science for Sustainable Development
M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), working for sustainable agricultural and rural development, completed 30 years of its services in the year 2018. MSSRF is founded with the motto of Science for an Inclusive Society and to promote research and training on the application of modern science and technology and contemporary development experiences to the problems of ecologically sustainable agricultural production and to the problems of the well-being of people in rural areas. MSSRF’s work began in the year 1988 with the pro-nature, pro-poor and pro-woman paradigm of technology development and dissemination. Economic viability and feasibility, environmental sustainability and social and gender equity became the three pillars of MSSRF’s programmes.
The Coastal System Research programme which is designed on the model of Farming System Research (FSR), was the first area of concern to MSSRF and brought in an integrated management approach by land and sea surface on the one hand, and capture and culture fisheries and forestry and agro-forestry on the other. Further, as the priority research domain to deal with the issue of sea level rise as a result of global warming. MSSRF has through its work, established a national and global position of leadership in this area over the past 30 years.
Biodiversity programme focuses on integrating Conservation, Cultivation, Consumption and Commerce dimensions of in-situ on farm conservation. This has resulted in the establishment of Community Biodiversity Centres in the states of Odisha, Kerala and Tamil Nadu for the purpose of conservation and sustainable utilisation of biodiversity and bio-resources and enhancement of tribal and rural livelihoods.
MSSRF believes technology blending is the pathway to integrate the classic and contemporary in scientific strategies. This has led to application of biotechnologies for crop and soil productivity improvement and institutional mechanisms like the Bio-village, Community Food and Water Security systems etc., for converting concepts into field level accomplishments.
In the rural development programmes, the emphasis is on promoting job-led economic growth with strong institutional arrangements at the village level. This resulted in eco-technologies, based on five E’s (Ecology, Economics, Equity, Employment and Energy) leading to the establishment of the JRD Tata Eco-Technology Centre and the Fish for All Centre with the generous support of Tata Trusts.
The emphasis on food and nutrition security and gender mainstreaming has led to the establishment of the B V Rao Centre for Sustainable Food Security, the Uttara Devi Centre for Gender and Development and Ford Foundation Chair for Women and Food Security. The Foundation is engaged in advocacy of a farming system for nutrition approach to address the malnutrition challenge facing the country.
Rural Knowledge Connectivity was considered an essential pre-requisite for rural upliftment. This led to the establishment of the Jamsetji Tata National Virtual Academy for Rural Prosperity and the formation of the National Alliance for Mission 2007: Every Village a Knowledge Centre. The latter has subsequently evolved into the Grameen Gyan Abhiyan.
MSSRF has now grown to 200 plus staff members from multiple disciplines, and has presence in over 15 states of India with a reach of over 300, 000 small holder farm families. On 27th May 2018, MSSRF completed three decades of service with many notable results that can be of help to the poor and vulnerable people of India in achieving their aspirations for a sustainable future.
This is an occasion for the Founders, the Board of trustees, and staff of MSSRF to evaluate the effectiveness and the impact the organization has made over the years in harnessing science and technology for sustainable agricultural and rural development, and also to draw on the insights and learning for planning the future.
To mark this occasion, we are organising an International Consultation on ‘From 30 Years to 2030: Achieving Sustainable Development Goals and Strengthening Science of Climate Resilience’, and inviting all who have partnered with us and helped us in one way or the other in this journey. The purpose of the consultation is to capture the key results achieved and the impacts created since the inception of MSSRF, and also for planning the next 12 years of work. We value your ideas and partnership that can help us to shape our journey ahead!
Chairperson and Trustees of MSSRF