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Indian American philanthropist Dr Suri Sehgal receives prestigious Dr. M S Swaminathan Award for leadership in agriculture

Dr. Surinder (Suri) Sehgal, an Indian-American philanthropist with a long career as a crop scientist, seedsman, entrepreneur, and leading global hybrid seed industry expert, 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.

Dr. Suri Sehgal is a 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, India.

He is renowned for his commitment to empowering communities and fostering sustainable agricultural practices through his development initiatives through S M Sehgal Foundation (India) and Sehgal Foundation (USA). S M Sehgal Foundation (SMSF) reaches to 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 to an impressive gathering of more than 100 dignitaries.

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 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.”

Dr. Suri Sehgal also expressed his gratitude to TAAS for conferring this prestigious Dr. M S Swaminathan award, and his thanks to all who helped him on his journey from plant scientist to philanthropist, especially his wife Edda.

The Trust for Advancement of Agricultural Sciences (TAAS), a well-known Think Tank based in India, instituted the award in 2004 in honour of Dr. M S Swaminathan, a doyen of Indian agriculture. Twelve eminent agricultural leaders have received this award so far.

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