American Univesity of Beirut

Strategic partnership in enhancing food and nutritional security in South Asia & China by Ashutosh Sarker

Dr. Ashutosh Sarker, Regional Coordinator, South Asia & China Regional Program, Biodiversity and Integrated Gene Management, ICARDA, delivered the lecture: Strategic partnership in enhancing food and nutritional security in South Asia & China (May 17) at FAFS. He described collaborative research and development (R&D) activities with partner institutions in South Asia and China, as these address sustainable agriculture and promote higher income for farmers. Sarker also discussed ensuring the judicious use of natural resources as a means for achieving food and nutritional security. Possibilities were explored for disseminating knowledge to students through learning and capacity building workshops at AREC  hosted in collaboration with ICARDA, ESDU, and FAFS.​


The presentation highlighted a potential project related to chickpea production in Lebanon. While most of Lebanon’s chickpeas are imported from the USA, there remains a great demand for the crop by the local hummus industry. Chickpea can be used fresh or processed by industry; the crop requires low water and fertilizer input and  drought resistant varieties have high-hanging pods that allow easy mechanical harvesting. Weeds pose a potential challenge for chickpea production. In Lebanon, the main problem with production is seed propagation, which usually inhibits farmers from long-term cultivation. A suggested means to temper this is teaching farmers to propagate their own seeds, thereby also providing sustainability. Other crops that mentioned as potentials for Lebanon’s agricultural sector are lentils and faba beans. Given its drought tolerance, cactus may also be a crop for animal feed and other uses. 

About the speaker:

Dr. Ashutosh Sarker, a native of Bangladesh, is an ICARDA’s food legume improvement scientist. He holds a B.Sc. Ag. (Hons) and M.Sc. Ag. (Genetics  & Plant Breeding) from Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh, and a Ph.D. in Genetics from the Indian Agricultural  Research Institute in New Delhi, India , where his dissertation focused on lentil research. Sarker began his career as a pulse breeder at the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute, Joydebpur, in 1979 and joined ICARDA in 1996 as their lentil breeder. With 40 years of research experience in food legume breeding and genetics, Dr. Sarker was directly involved in the development of over 45 pulse varieties, the majority of them in lentil, which has significantly impacted farmers in several countries. Sarker has authored over 200 scientific journal articles, symposia proceedings, popular articles, and book chapters. He is the recipient of several national and international awards in recognition of his contribution to legume science and to the improved livelihoods of farmers. Sarker is an active member of several professional bodies, and has participated and contributed to more than 40 international symposia and conferences. During his career, Dr. Sarker has supervised the research of 19 MS/PhD students. Dr. Ashutosh Sarker is the Director of ICARDA-India Research Platform, which focuses on food legume research; he coordinates ICARDA’s research in South Asia & China region.​

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