Dr Manish Raizada is working to improve farming practices in Canada, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. The plant agriculture professor at the University of Guelph is developing low-cost technologies that empower farmers, and says the need to reduce the need to use synthetic nitrogen fertilizers and pesticides, replacing them with natural, biological resources is immediate and urgent.
“We can’t have green agriculture without fixing this,” he says.
High-technology, inexpensive soil testing kits developed by his lab alert farmers to the need to add micronutrients. His work on probiotics for plants helps reduce diseases in corn and wheat. He has also developed one-dollar sustainable agriculture kits and training materials for farmers. These include seeds to enhance bio-diversity, low-cost technology tools such as grain storage bags and educational picture books.
Research has universal benefit, says Dr Raizada. “We are all linked. What helps a farmer in a remote corner of the world helps us all.”
His parents, who were teachers in Nigeria, moved to Canada in the early 70s, and theirs was one of the first Indian families in Brampton, Ontario. He recalls trying to fit in, but realized as he grew older, what a tremendous asset the richness of culture is. He tells newcomers that we are fortunate to be in an era where multi-ethnicity is an asset.
“Put the different skills you bring to Canada to good use, but also put down roots in the wider community.”