Home' Partners : Partners: Australian research leaders Contents PARTNERS ISSUE THREE 2015
n Capacity building is an integral aspect of the
international agricultural research system.
n Of mounting importance is the mentoring of the
next generation of agricultural scientists.
BY GIO BRAIDOTTI
The hidden impact of the Green Revolution
has been a surge of capacity building
across agriculture, fuelled by a network of
partnerships and shared food-production
goals between developed and developing
world scientists. Include the farmers who have
participated in research---through myriad variety
and agronomy trials---and the resulting knowledge
network's breadth and reach is extraordinary.
This network can link a smallholder farmer
to the world's most advanced laboratories---to
a plethora of technology, decision-making and
computing capability---and also to a broadening
base of funding that includes public, private and
Consider Kuppusamy Periyannan and his
wife, Subhulakshmi. They farm 1.3 hectares on
the banks of the Cauvery River in southern India.
They are tropical crop farmers who are considered
innovators in their local community.
Despite their own lack of educational
opportunities, they have tremendous faith in the
power of agricultural science to improve the lives of
farmers. So strong is that faith that they borrowed
money against their land to educate their children,
but on the condition that one child---Sambasivam
('Sam')---commit to studying agricultural science. In
2004, Sam qualified as a plant pathologist.
In fundamental ways, the choices made by
Kuppusamy and Subhulakshmi made a difference,
not just to their circumstances but to the world. Their
decision to risk a loan to educate their son led to
helping world-best laboratories in Australia to meet
one of the great contemporary threats to world
wheat production---the fungal stem rust disease,
Ug99. It caused global alarm when the fungus
overcame the disease-resistance genes bred into
wheat during the Green Revolution.
The bridge between the Indian smallholder
family and the advanced Australian laboratories
took the form of a scholarship, which makes it
possible for developing world scientists to train in
advanced laboratories. In 2007, Dr Sam Periyannan
applied for and received an Australian Government
International Postgraduate Research Scholarship
and support from ACIAR to pursue the arduous
training associated with a PhD degree in Australia.
"At the time, there was an IT boom in India and
not many parents liked their children to get into
A master's degree earned at Charles Sturt University on an ACIAR John Allwright Fellowship saw Viengxay
Photakoun return to Lao PDR with some rm views on how to build the capacity of agricultural extension o cers
to bene t livestock producers. Prior to coming to Australia, Mr Photakoun worked on an ACIAR project introducing
fodder crops for livestock production in the uplands of Lao PDR. He worked closely with Dr Joanne Millar, who has a
special interest in developing successful extension methods.
The fellowship allowed Mr Photakoun to visit Australia to complete his master's degree with Dr Millar. He
investigated ways to build institutional capacity to implement participatory research and extension in Lao PDR.
That expertise will be applied through the National Agriculture and Forestry Extension Service, as he takes
responsibility for extension services for livestock and sheries.
A strategic alliance that assists Australians to volunteer in agriculture-related projects in developing countries has
been formed between ACIAR and Scope Global Alliance, a core partner of the Australian Volunteers for International
Development program, which is administered by the Australian Department of Foreign A airs and Trade. The alliance
will facilitate the placement of Australian Government-funded volunteers on ACIAR projects throughout the Indo-
Paci c region, in support of agricultural production, market supply and business development opportunities.
ACIAR and Scope Global have worked together for more than 10 years and ACIAR's Australian partner
organisations have supported more than 150 skilled Australians to work on agricultural research projects since
2002, in direct support of the Australian development strategy.
MORE INFORMATION: www.volunteering.scopeglobal.com
agricultural science," Dr Periyannan told Partners in
2013, on the eve of acquiring his doctorate. "But
my parents were different. My father especially
pointed me to agricultural science and it was the
science's links to farming that pushed me to try to
excel at research."
He joined the Australian Cereal Rust Control
Team---an initiative that ties together all the
Australian laboratories with expertise in rust disease
control. This includes one of the world's oldest and
largest rust pathogen collections at the University of
Sydney and world-leading expertise understanding
rust genetics at CSIRO Plant Industry.
Dr Periyannan was based in the CSIRO
laboratories headed by Dr Evans Lagudah, who
also hails from the developing world, having
In international agricultural research it is the development of researchers
that leads to the scientific discoveries driving progress
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