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Dr Yeshwant Laxman Nene:A Legendary Agricultural Scientist and Pioneer of the Asian Agricultural Heritage
Dr Yeshwant Laxman Nene, Former Deputy Director General of ICRISAT (International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics) and Chairman Emeritus of the Asian Agri-History Foundation (AAHF) suddenly passed away on 15 January 2018 at his residence in Secunderabad, Telangana state, India. Dr YL Nene was born on 24 November 1936 in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, India from where he completed his high school in 1951, and BSc (Agri) degree in 1955. He obtained his Master’s degree in Plant Pathology in 1957 from Government Agriculture College, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. He got PhD in Plant Pathology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, USA in 1960. He then joined as an Assistant Professor in the College of Agriculture, UP Agricultural University (now GB Pant University of Agriculture and Technology – GBPUAT), Pantnagar, Dist. Nainital, Uttar Pradesh (now Dist. Udham Singh Nagar, Uttarakhand) . At Pantnagar he excelled as a plant pathology teacher and a researcher and earned the reputation of being an excellent plant pathology teacher. He solved the mystery of the dreaded khaira disease of paddy in 1965, which was threatening its extinction from the Tarai region of Uttar Pradesh. For his pioneering work on khaira, he was awarded the International Rice Research Prize in 1967 by FAO as part of the International Rice Year (1966) celebrations. His work on viral diseases of warm season (kharif) pulses was recognized internationally. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1966 and Professor and Head in 1969. He was considered a distinguished faculty member at GBPUAT at Pantnagar and was conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Science in 1991 in recognition of the “singular contribution to the cause of agricultural research, education and development”. In 1974, Dr Nene joined ICRISAT as the Principal Plant Pathologist in the Pulses Improvement Program. Here again, he excelled in research and his landmark contribution was resolving the problem of “wilt complex” of chickpea. He developed simple disease-resistance screening techniques for laboratory, greenhouse and field conditions as well as multiple-disease field screening systems for major chickpea and pigeonpea diseases, which are widely used internationally. The most outstanding contributions of the Pulses and later Legume Programmes that he led during 1980-89, were the development of high yielding pigeonpeas, wilt-resistant chickpeas, and high-yielding, disease-resistant groundnut varieties. For these contributions, he was internationally recognized as the world leader in grain legumes research. He was also elected Fellow of the American Phytopathological Society (APS) in 1990. Post-ICRISAT (1996-2018), he devoted fulltime to the work of the Asian Agri-History Foundation that he conceptualized and founded in 1994 to unearth and disseminate information on the history of Asian agriculture. As its Founder Chairman, his outstanding achievements have been in the publication of 11 technical Bulletins on Asian agriculture and starting a quarterly journal of Asian Agri-History. He is wellrecognized world over for his leadership in revitalizing agricultural history in Asia especially India. He was a staunch supporter and promoter of Vedic agriculture through Vrikshayurveda of Surapala and strongly believed in its great potential and relevance for Indian agriculture to rectify the damages of the green revolution such as maintenance of soil health, crop growth and productivity, maintenance of biodiversity and protecting environment and human health. Dr Nene through his dedicated work has earned the reputation of a luminary scientist of modern India and has inspired and mentored many young students, scientists and colleagues during his 57 years of professional career. Needless to say that he will be missed by all of them and also by the Indian agriculture for a very long time to come.
Administrator, Agricultural Heritage, Agricultural Scientist, Asian Agri-History Foundation, Chickpea, Grain Legumes, ICRISAT, Khaira Disease of Paddy, Kharif Pulses, Plant Pathologist, Pantnagar Agricultural University, Pigeonpea, Researcher, Teacher, Ve.
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