Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd. of India and the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute at the University of Nebraska have announced a joint international research and education partnership. The cooperation will provide new funding for University of Nebraska faculty, graduate students and post-doctoral research scholars to collaborate closely with Jain Irrigation scientists on critical water and food security issues.
Jain Irrigation, one of the largest irrigation and food processing companies in the world, will donate $500,000 to the University of Nebraska Foundation over the next five years to support the Jain Irrigation - University of Nebraska Water for Food Research and Education Program. The funding from Jain Irrigation and resources provided by the Daugherty Water for Food Institute will help support a cooperative program, including scientific exchanges for hands-on research, training and outreach projects.
Chairman Bhavarlal H. Jain noted at the signing that "The University of Nebraska's Water for Food Institute and Jain Irrigation are committed to a collaborative partnership to sustainably increase yields and improve water productivity using our best scientific and technological resources and add value to small holders."
University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds said, "Feeding the world's growing population is one of the most urgent challenges of the day. The University of Nebraska is well-positioned for global leadership in developing solutions and we are excited to work with partners around the world with mutual interest and expertise in water and food security. Jain Irrigation is a world leader in these areas and our collaboration will benefit students and faculty, farmers and ranchers, and people in Nebraska, India and elsewhere."
"To address the complex challenge of ensuring global water and food security, it is important to pool our resources and expertise," said Roberto Lenton, founding executive director of the Water for Food Institute. "In the next 35 years, our global population is expected to increase from seven billion to nearly 10 billion, while our water and land resources remain the same, subject to changes in climate extremes. We need programs like this to develop innovative solutions for producing more food while sustaining our freshwater supply for other vital human and environmental needs."
Joint Managing Director Ajit Jain said, "We are eager to work with UNL so as to bring the latest cutting edge technology, including remote sensing climate models, to the doorstep of small farmers in India and other countries around the world."
The Jain team will be led by:
- Dr. P.V. Sane, Senior Scientist and Plant Biotechnologist
- Dr. P. Soman, Senior Agronomist, Crop Physiology & Agronomy
- Abhijit Joshi, Senior Irrigation Engineer
Water for Food Institute Director of Research and Irrigation Engineer Christopher Neale will lead the program on behalf of the Water for Food Institute, along with three of the institute's Faculty Fellows from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL):
- Tom Clemente, plant geneticist, UNL Agronomy & Horticulture
- Suat Irmak, irrigation engineer, UNL Biological Systems Engineering
- Harkamal Walia, plant molecular physiologist, UNL agronomy & Horticulture
"We're excited to move forward with Jain Irrigation. Tapping into their expertise in precision irrigation technology and experience with agricultural settings in a wide variety of climates, soil conditions and cultures will provide beneficial insights for us in Nebraska," said Water for Food's Christopher Neale. "The funding will catalyze global, multi-disciplinary research opportunities to advance our shared efforts to improve water management and crop yields, while helping to educate the scientists of the future."
The partnership will focus on improving salt and drought tolerance of soybeans and bananas; biotechnology education and training for Jain scientists; and, use of geospatial technologies for improving crop and irrigation water management and monitoring crop water productivity.
The agreement was preceded by extensive face-to-face discussions between the two organizations, as well as a University of Nebraska-Jain Irrigation 2012 memorandum of understanding that laid the groundwork for collaborations.