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Published February 01, 2011, 09:22 AM

Fulbright scholar links India, U.S. in plant path

FARGO, N.D. — Meet Manjanath Krishnappa Naik — a Fulbright scholar from India. He’s just completed a four-month stint with the North Dakota State University plant pathology department in Fargo and says he likes what he sees there.

By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

FARGO, N.D. — Meet Manjanath Krishnappa Naik — a Fulbright scholar from India. He’s just completed a four-month stint with the North Dakota State University plant pathology department in Fargo and says he likes what he sees there.

At NDSU, Naik, 49, has associated with Mohamed Khan, an Extension Service sugar beet plant pathologist, and Rubella Goswami, who works with dry beans, pulse and lentil crops. Back home, Naik is a professor and department head of the plant pathology department for the College of Agriculture at the University of Agricultural Sciences in Kamataka, India. While in Fargo, he was a guest lecturer on plant pathology, fungal biology, plant disease management, plant disease epidemiology. He traveled to Texas, Kansas and Washington, D.C.

Naik says international understanding is a primary goal of the Fulbright program. He says his university is called a “land grant” institution, patterned after the U.S. land grant universities, such as NDSU. His home university has about 800 students and 300 faculty and entirely is focused on research, especially rice, cotton, ground nut, sunflowers, chickpeas, pigeon peas, green gram, black gram and hot pepper, as well as numerous vegetables. Naik did bachelor’s and master’s degree work in Bangalore in the early 1980s and holds a doctorate from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute in New Delhi.

The university has 800 acres of land attached to it, for research. Large farms in that region are 100 to 200 acres.

Naik says he’s especially interested in enhancing international understanding through his visit. He has enjoyed discussing emerging issues in plant disease management. He says India was short of food after the 1940s, but the “green revolution” revolutionized the production of cereal crops. Now, he says, scientists there are focused on increasing nutritional health for the masses. Twenty to 30 percent of his countrymen are suffering from a lack of certain vitamins.

India is emphasizing integrated pest management to keep the cost of plant disease control to a minimum. To keep production costs down, scientists are working on plant resistance, botanicals and bio-control agents are among the methods being developed. He says the IPM techniques are designed to increase farmer profits.

Exchanging ideas

Numerous NDSU faculty have been involved in the Fulbright scholar program over the years, and several are now. Fulbright scholarships were after established in 1946, after World War II, under a law introduced by Sen. J. William Fulbright, D-Ark. The program has given about 300,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists and scientists the opportunity to teach, conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

Kerri Spiering, the Fulbright campus representative at NDSU and associate vice president for equity, diversity and global outreach, says Naik is the only Fulbright scholar being hosted currently. Often, one or two NDSU faculty or students are out on the program.

Naik says he could have chosen other agricultural institutions across the country, but chose NDSU because of a potential for more back-and-forth programs between the two institutions. He says one of the things that impressed him about the NDSU opportunity was that more than 60 percent of the economic activity in the state is agriculture-related, which would not have been the case in other U.S. institutions.

Naik says he enjoyed the multinational origins of the students in his classes and the progressive use of podcasts, where students can hear their lectures on the computer, complementing the traditional “chalk and talk” methods.

“People here are very friendly and coop

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