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University of Cambridge signs MoU with Bharti Foundation to promote crop research and productivity improvement

Three year agreement entails grant from Bharti Foundation to University of Cambridge to conduct the Research Programme Programme to boost corn / baby corn productivity in the country besides strengthening small farmer income in maize growing regions Research to be led by FieldFresh Foods in partnership with Punjab Agricultural University(PAU); field trials to be conducted at FieldFresh’s Agri Centre of Excellence (ACE) in Ludhiana (Punjab)

Cambridge, UK/ New Delhi, September 12, 2016: The University of Cambridge and Bharti Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Bharti Enterprises, today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (“MoU”) to conduct corn / baby corn crop improvement research Programme in India. The Programme is scheduled to be funded through a grant from Bharti Foundation to the University of Cambridge. The grant will support a three-year research programme carried out between Cambridge’s Department of Plant Sciences and the Cambridge Centre for Crop Science (3CS), Punjab Agricultural University and FieldFresh Foods.

The Research Programme will be led by FieldFresh Foods in India in partnership with Punjab Agricultural University (PAU). The field trials during research will be conducted at FieldFresh’s Agri Centre of Excellence (ACE) in Ladhowal (Ludhiana), Punjab, where the Company is currently running various crop management trials and partners with farmers to improve overall crop economics. The ACE is one of its kind facility in the country focusing on one of the most underserved sector in the country - 'Horticulture'.

Announcing the initiative, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, said, “We are hugely grateful to the Bharti Foundation for this generous gift, which not only helps us to address one of the fundamental problems facing a growing global population, that of food security, but also strengthens our deep-rooted relationships with India, its universities and industry.”

The collaborative research will examine the relationship between the genetic make-up, environmental factors and crop management of corn in order to develop a production system that is more resilient and helps reduce production costs and greenhouse gas emissions. The findings will be further translated into guidance for small farmers in India to promote sustainability, financial stability and to eradicate food shortages.

Commenting on the research partnership, Rakesh Bharti Mittal, Vice Chairman, Bharti Enterprises and Co-Founder, Bharti Foundation, said, “Our research partnership with Cambridge University underlines our commitment to support high level research in the country in collaboration with premier institutions. The current Programme will not just significantly impact productivity and farmer income but help promote the cause of sustainable agriculture in the country.”

Corn (Maize) is the third most important cereal crop in India after rice and wheat accounting for ~9 per cent of total food grain production in the country. At 2.5 tonne per hectare, India’s average corn yield is less than half of the global average of 5.5 tonne per hectare. (Source - Industry reports / KPMG, NCDEX)

The research outcomes will be shared with State Agriculture Dept., Agricultural Universities and such other statutory/ non-statutory bodies. Additionally, Bharti Foundation in partnership with IFFCO Kisan Sanchar Limited (IKSL), a subsidiary of Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Limited (IFFCO), will help in disseminating the outcome of the Research Programme through various digital tools to millions of farmers across the country.

About Bharti Foundation:

Bharti Foundation was set up in 2000 as the philanthropic arm of the Bharti Enterprises. It implements programs in the field of primary, elementary, senior secondary and higher education through the Satya Bharti School Program as well as Government School interventions under its Satya Bharti Quality Support and Satya Bharti Learning Centres Program. This year, the Foundation has completed 10 successful years of the Satya Bharti School Program. Bharti Foundation has till date impacted the lives of close to 1,50,000 students from underprivileged background, with a special emphasis on the girl child, and has touched over a million lives through its education initiatives.

In addition to education programs, the Foundation has initiated Satya Bharti Abhiyan, to improve sanitation facilities in rural Ludhiana District and Nyaya Bharti to provide legal and financial aid to deserving underprivileged under-trials languishing in jails across the country for minor offences.

About University of Cambridge

The mission of the University of Cambridge is to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest levels of excellence. Having recently celebrated its 800th anniversary, Cambridge is one of the world’s oldest and greatest universities, with more than 18,000 students and almost 9,000 staff spread across 31 Colleges and 150 Departments, Faculties, Schools and other institutions.

The University’s community of graduate students consists of around 4,000 PhD students and 3,000 students pursuing Master’s or equivalent level qualifications. Our alumni are responsible for some of the most significant discoveries in the history of mankind including the laws of gravity, the theory of evolution, the development of computers, the camera, the structure of DNA, the electron, jet propulsion, hydrogen and the big bang theory, to name but a few. Our alumni and staff have been awarded 94 Nobel prizes, more than any other British university and we are consistently ranked in the top three universities in the world.

The teaching of Botany has been conducted at Cambridge, and the Herbarium, since the 16th century, a tradition that continues to thrive in the recently refurbished Department of Plant Sciences building. The department is led by Professor Sir David Baulcombe FRS, Regius Professor of Botany, with academic staff leading 18 research groups across a wide range of disciplines.

Around 20-30 final year undergraduates specialise in Plant Sciences, with 70 postgraduates, and 55 post-doctoral researchers supported by an average grant income of circa £8 million per year. Our partner institutes include the award-winning Sainsbury Laboratory (Director:Prof Ottoline Leyser FRS), and developments in crop science and canopy modelling are being undertaken in collaboration with the NIAB (Director: Prof Tina Barsby) via the Cambridge Centre for Crop Science (3CS).

About FieldFresh Foods Pvt. Ltd.:

FieldFresh Foods Private Limited is a joint venture between Bharti Enterprises & Del Monte Pacific Limited. With a vision of 'creating delightful food experiences', FieldFresh Foods offers a range of food and beverage products under the Del Monte brand in India and select SAARC countries, while exporting fresh and processed vegetables like Baby Corn, Sweet Corn, Chillies etc to UK and western Europe. It also exports core sauces & condiments to international QSR's in 12 markets in Asia Pacific.

For fresh produce, FieldFresh Foods has an Agriculture Centre of Excellence (ACE) at Ladhowal, Ludhiana in Punjab, which is one of the largest agricultural R&D facilities of its kind and is spread over 300 acres with a state-of-the-art protected & open field cultivation for vegetables. The Company also has a world class manufacturing and R&D center for Del Monte range of products at Hosur, near Bengaluru. This state-of-the-art facility manufactures a range of Fruit Drinks, Sauces, Dips, Dressings and Condiments. The plant has fully integrated & highly automated lines consistently producing high quality products which remain untouched by the human hand.

About Punjab Agricultural University:

Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) is located at Ludhiana, one of the most important wheat and corn growing regions of India. The PAU breeding program is known for its high impact, and has recently released new varieties of both wheat and maize for regional production. The ongoing collaboration between PAU, University of Cambridge and the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) will be consolidated by working with Fieldfresh Foods – ACE to develop models of corn growth and field-based evaluation systems, to enhance smallholder production and sustainable use of fertilisers.