This story was originally published by Tessa Schneider on Monday, July 31, 2017

What is your current professional position, title, affiliation, responsibilities? How long have you been in this position? 

Tiwari is a Research Associate in the HarvestPlus Wheat project at Banaras Hindu University, India. She received her Ph.D. (Agriculture) in Genetics and Plant Breeding, from BHU in 2012. Tiwari’s research has focused on molecular aspects of terminal heat stress impact which greatly affects the wheat production and grain security in India.

I am currently busy in childcare and preparing some wheat breeding projects. Previously, I was a Senior Research Associate in HarvestPlus Wheat Biofortification Project at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India.

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Who or what inspired you to work in wheat science and research and why?

My postgraduate mentor Dr. Mahabalram inspired me to work in wheat science. From my childhood I wanted to work for human welfare so I decided to take agriculture (focused on genetics and plant breeding) in my post-graduate studies and work on wheat. Wheat is staple crop in my region and a large number of farmers depend on it as their primary source of food and economic stability. So in this way, research on wheat is fulfilling my dream to help farmers and the masses for food security.

What effect did the WIT Early Career Award have on your professional development?

The WIT Early Career Award greatly encouraged me to continue in wheat research. The CIMMYT wheat training provided by this award gave me the opportunity to learn the best techniques for wheat breeding and allowed me to meet CIMMYT scientists to learn more about wheat breeding. After receiving the award I always encourage to other women candidates who work in wheat to apply for this award.

What are you currently working on, and how does it relate to wheat production and/or food security in your country?

I am currently working on new wheat breeding projects focused on improving its yield. The plants will be heat tolerant with enhanced grain zinc content. I am also working on some training projects in which women farmers/women will be educated on correct wheat breeding technique. The Eastern Gangetic plains region is a heat prone area, and malnutrition is a major problem for poor farmers and their families (women and children). So a project based on heat tolerance with enhanced zinc content in wheat will be helpful to address both problems in my region.

Which recent scientific discoveries or new technologies do you think will affect wheat production in the next 10-15 years?

More work on wheat genome will be helpful to wheat production in the next 10- 15 years. I think collection of more germplasm of wheat and more research on genes related to different abiotic and biotic factors will be critical. For example, in my region, spot blotch disease and heat are major problems. Research based on regional wheat lines will be more helpful. Additionally, Some new apps and TV channels for helping farmers should be developed.

If you had access to unlimited funding toward wheat research as it relates to food security and improving life of small-scale farmers, how would you invest it? 

If I had access to unlimited funding toward wheat research first I will go for huge surveyof the problems of small scale farmers related to wheat farming and production, then use this fund according to solve problems step by step. Wheat farming training for small-scale farmers will be done. Funds will also be used to involve more women farmers in wheat research.

What advice do you have for other women who are beginning their careers in agricultural science?

I advise other women who are beginning their career in agricultural sciences to do wheat research with firm determination to help farmers to contribute in food security. Of course women have more challenges in their life as she may also have to take care of family, but I believe women have great internal strength to do all their work.