‘Bihana Didi’ Of Odisha Dr Swati Nayak Receives Prestigious Norman Borlaug Field Award

Bhubaneswar: Dr Swati Nayak, a young scientist from Odisha working at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in New Delhi, received the prestigious Norman Borlaug Field Award, 2023, for field research and application of her work in the field of food and nutrition, at Des Moines, Iowa, on October 24.

The World Food Prize Foundation had announced her name as the recipient of the award on September 19 at New York Climate Week. The award is given to exceptional scientists under 40 years of age who work in the field of food and nutrition security, hunger eradication and exhibit the character and attributes of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Green Revolution’s Chief Architect Dr Norman Borlaug.

The foundation described Nayak, who is currently working as Manila-based CGIAR- International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) South Asia Regional Lead for Seed System and Product Management, as a champion of inclusive agricultural extension and technology transfer, critical for equitably bridging the gap between scientific advancements and tangible benefits on farmers’ fields.

“She promotes rural innovation models that emphasise sustainable agricultural technologies and enterprise development. Her adept leadership in validating and scaling participatory field research and extension models has garnered broad acclaim and has been widely replicated by national institutions. She is a pioneer in extension and field research, as well as an inspiration to the many people, especially women, following her lead.”

Nayak has so far organised more than 10,000 extensive on-farm trials for more than 500 rice varieties, working with thousands of smallholder farmers across diverse ecosystems in Asia and Africa. In Odisha, she is referred to as ‘Bihana Didi’ for having introduced the drought-tolerant rice variety ‘Shahabhagi Dhan’, which is an integral part of every farm family’s diet and crop rotation.

She is the third Indian and first from Odisha to receive this prestigious award. .

Congratulating Nayak, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had earlier said that her outstanding contribution in the field of agriculture and food production will inspire young scientists from across the world.

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