Iowa’s Dr. Suri Sehgal Receives Swaminathan Award For Leadership In Agriculture
India-West Staff Reporter
DES MOINES, IO – Indian American Dr Surinder Sehgal, the agricultural entrepreneur, and founder of the Sehgal Foundation based here, has been given the prestigious Dr. M S Swaminathan Award for Leadership in Agriculture for 2022.
The award is presented annually to an eminent agricultural expert who has made remarkable contributions towards enhancing food security, alleviating poverty, and effecting positive change within the farming community and the national agricultural landscape.
Sehgal has been global leader in the development and spread of the hybrid seed industry worldwide and helped build the Indian seed sector through the establishment of Proagro Group of seed companies (now Bayer) and Hytech Seed India based in Hyderabad.
He is renowned for his unwavering commitment to empowering communities and fostering sustainable agricultural practices through his development initiatives through the foundations he has set up in the US and India. Along with his wife Edda Sehgal, the Indian American scientist, businessman, and philanthropist established the foundation in 1998. The Sehgal family is dedicated to uplifting rural India and welcomes and values all partners who share their vision. It reaches more than 4.2 million people in 2,040 villages in India.
SMSF has been instrumental in improving availability, access, and quality of water; improved farming practices and farmer income; promoted local participation, especially women, in government programs; empowered village youth, especially girls, with digital and life skills learning; transformed school environments; and continues to expand their reach to empower rural India.
During the event, a short film on Dr. Sehgal’s life and his transformational impact on farmers and rural communities in India and elsewhere was shown. The event was graced by Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, MSSRF chairperson, who joined online to convey the blessings of Dr. M S Swaminathan to Dr. Sehgal. The citation was read by Dr. Gurbachan Singh, TAAS vice chairman and trustee. The award was presented by an eminent maize breeder, World Food Laureate, and previous recipient of this award, Dr. S. K. Vasal, who successfully led the quality protein maize (QPM) breeding program at CIMMYT, Mexico.
In his award acceptance speech, Dr. Sehgal shared about the journey he covered as a plant breeder and in social development. He also said, “Throughout my entire career in plant science and agriculture business management, I have felt an imperative to address world hunger, create food security, and promote biodiversity—a vision exemplified by Dr M S Swaminathan for whom this award is named.”
The Trust for Advancement of Agricultural Sciences (TAAS), a well-known Think Tank based in India, instituted this award in 2004 in honor of Dr. M S Swaminathan, a doyen of Indian agriculture. Twelve eminent agricultural leaders have received this award so far.