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Ploughing new ground

Aberystwyth University in Wales is focusing on developing close ties with agricultural institutes in India

education Updated: Nov 22, 2012 14:11 IST
Vandana Ramnani

With a stunning campus overlooking the Cardigan Bay on the West coast of Wales, UK, Aberystwyth University has a world class Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS). Famous for its research on issues such as sustainable land use, climate change and the security of food and water supplies, it is focusing on developing close links with agricultural and environmental institutes in India and collaborating on research in these areas.

According to professor John Grattan, pro vice-chancellor, student experience and international, Aberystwyth University, the institute has agreements with many institutions all over the world. “In line with our international strategy, we are currently focusing on developing close links with agricultural and environmental institutes in India to share our expertise and collaborate on research in these areas.”

IBERS currently has a memorandum of understanding with the International Crop Research Institute for Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), National Agricultural Reseach System (NARS), India.

A research project being carried out at the department currently looks at pearl millet, a plant that is grown in the driest parts of Asia and Africa where the soil is poor in nutrition. “We have been trying to improve pearl millet so that farmers get a reliable yield and the produce does not get reduced by disease, such as downy mildew, or by the failure of rain,” explains Rattan Yadav, research leader, crop genetics, genomics and breeding division of IBERS.

“Aberystwyth took this up 20 years ago – with the help of the Department for International Development (DFID) – and collected lots of genetic and genomic resources to help understand these traits. We conducted this work in collaboration with ICRISAT – the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics – based in Hyderabad, India. This is part of a group that conducts research on tropical crops grown by the poorest of the poor farmers,” says Yadav, who hails from Haryana.

A word of advice
* Do your research. Check which courses are available and find out if they meet your needs (ie would it help you secure a better job, would it enable you to become a researcher, a lecturer, a teacher etc?)

* University websites are the quickest option here. If you are applying for a PhD or an MPhil research programme, then contact the department before constructing your research proposal

* Check if funding is available