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UCAM Press release: UK institutions and Indian government sign agreement on crop science

last modified Feb 25, 2016 01:33 PM
From the Office of External Affairs and Communications A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on 24 February 2016 at the Ministry of Earth Sciences in New Delhi between India’s Department of Biotechnology and a consortium of British research institutions for the establishment of a joint UK-India collaboration programme in crop science.

Collaboration between leading scientists in the UK and India will focus on tackling global food shortages with research into increasing crop yields and improving disease and drought resistance.

UK-India Collaboration programme in crop science aims to enhance collaborative research, promote knowledge exchange, and support capacity building to develop resilience in food security.


The agreement was signed on behalf of the University of Cambridge by the Vice-Chancellor Professor Leszek Borysiewicz, Professor K. VijayRaghavan, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India and Dr Nafees Meah, Director, Research Councils UK India, on behalf of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). It was also signed by representatives from NIAB in Cambridge; the John Innes Centre and the University of East Anglia, in Norwich; and Rothamsted Research.

The MoU was signed in the presence of India’s Union Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Dr Harsh Vardhan, and the Minister of State for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Sh Y S Chowdary.

Professor Leszek Borysiewicz said:

This collaboration builds on the close links already established between leading researchers in the United Kingdom and India and is another great example of both countries’ commitment to growing our partnerships in translational and applied research. 

This collaboration will create opportunities for leading experts in the UK and India to come together to tackle global challenges in the areas of food security, crop science and biotechnology.


Dr Tina Barsby, CEO and Director of NIAB, said: “We are delighted to be part of this international collaboration to develop and improve the translation of fundamental crop research into agronomic practice. We want to give farmers and growers throughout the sub-continent access to the most advanced developments in agricultural science and technology; essential for them to meet the challenges of growing crops in the face of changing climatic conditions and increasing food security demands.”


All parties agreed on the importance of crop science as an area of enormous potential for scientific collaboration, and its central role in driving global food security in India and beyond. The agreement foresees joint projects focusing on the fundamental science underpinning yield enhancement, disease resistance and drought resistance; research into crop re-breeding; and the translation of fundamental research into sustainable agriculture practice. It also contemplates the establishment of a joint Indo-UK Plant Science Centre in India.

  • The University of Cambridge is one of the signatories of the Memorandum of Understanding between British research institutions and the Department of Biotechnology, part of India’s Ministry of Science and Technology. The University, which has a Strategic Research Initiative in Global Food Security, sees crop sciences as a key research area, and this agreement is aligned to its strategy of international engagement to tackle global challenges. The MoU is valid for three years from the date of its signature. The joint activities it foresees are subject to the negotiation of appropriate contractual terms and to the necessary funding being available.

  • The John Innes Centre is an independent, international centre of excellence in plant science and microbiology. JIC was ranked by Thomson Reuters as the world’s strongest research performer in the plant sciences (1999-2009).

  • The University of East Anglia (UEA) is among the top 1% of universities globally (Times Higher Education World Rankings 2014-15) and placed 10th in the UK for the quality of its research output (Research Excellence Framework 2014). Also known for its outstanding student experience, it has achieved a Top 10 rating in the National Student Survey every year since the survey began. UEA is a leading member of the Norwich Research Park - one of Europe’s largest concentrations of researchers in the fields of environment, health and plant science.

  • NIAB is a major international centre for plant research, crop evaluation and agronomy - a unique national resource, with nearly 100 years of experience and an internationally recognised reputation for independence, innovation and integrity. With headquarters in Cambridge and regional offices across the UK, NIAB spans the crop development pipeline, with the specialist knowledge, skills and facilities required to support the improvement of agricultural and horticultural crop varieties, to evaluate their performance and quality, and to ensure these advances are transferred into on-farm practice through efficient agronomy.; @niabtag