Workers banging on empty metal containers to scare birds away from scientific plots of mature sorghum at ICRISAT’s plant genetics research farm near Hyderabad, India. Some of the seed pods have been covered in green and pink nylon sets to prevent loss to birds, and white selfing bags to prevent cross-pollination.
The International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics is an UN-affiliated crop research institute that seeks to increase the yield of food crops in dry tropical regions by improving plant genetics and farming techniques. Their 3,500 acre (1390 Ha) research complex near Hyderabad, India was established in 1972, and they have satellite research facilities in eight African countries (Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi, and Mozambique). ICRISAT conducts food productivity research on sorghum, pearl millet, finger millet, chickpea, pigeon pea, and peanut, which are key subsistence crops for non-irrigated farmland in Africa and Asia. They maintain a gene bank with over 120,000 varieties of these crops from 144 countries. Many of the older varieties are no longer cultivated, and their gene bank is the only source of that genetic material.
This kind of unskilled labor pays $7/day (500 INR), minus (100 INR) deductions for health care and retirement. sorghum at ICRISAT’s plant genetics research farm near Hyderabad, India. Some of the seed pods have been covered in green and pink nylon sets to prevent loss to birds, and white selfing bags to prevent cross-pollination.
- ©2021 George Steinmetz
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