Oct. 2, 2020
Ajit Srivastava named Fellow by iAABE
Ajit Srivastava, professor in the Michigan State University Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering (BAE), has been named a 2020 Fellow of the International Academy of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (iAABE), one of the field’s top honors.
Part of the International Commission for Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering (CIGR), iAABE aims to “identify and recognize individuals distinguished by their scientific and professional contributions” to the field.
Srivastava will be honored at the 2021 CIGR annual meeting in Quebec, Canada. He is the third Spartan to be selected as an iAABE Fellow. Former BAE professor Fred Bakker-Arkema and Josse De Baerdemaeker, an MSU BAE graduate who went on to work in the field in Europe, are previous recipients of the recognition.
“It’s quite the honor. It feels wonderful,” Srivastava said. “I’m humbled. I'm very thankful to everyone who has helped me along the way, and to MSU, to our college and to our department. They have given me the opportunity, support and encouragement to be able to get to this point in my professional career.”
Known globally for his efforts to modernize agriculture technology, Srivastava has received multiple international grants during his career at MSU. Among them were a $25 million grant from USAID to establish the MSU Global Center for Food Systems Innovation, for which he served as founding co-director.
“I truly believe that ag and biosystems engineers have a lot to offer to the world, but our society has been focused mainly on U.S. agriculture,” he said. “That’s tremendous, but it is time to take our expertise globally to bring about similar transformation in the developing world.”
As part of Appropriate-scale Mechanization Consortium funded by USAID Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab at Kansas State University, Srivastava is examining solar technologies, such as a solar-powered traction unit and solar irrigation systems.
He also leads ASABE initiative to modernize African agriculture, which focuses on applying technology and innovation to grow the continent’s agricultural industries and address pertinent problems.
“While African agriculture poses many challenges, it offers many opportunities as well,” Srivastava said. "A modern agriculture holds the promise to food security, economic development and improving quality of life in Africa.”
Srivastava is no stranger to the benefits a land-grant university can have in modernizing agriculture.
“I am a product of USAID intervention in India,” he said. “I went to U.P. Agricultural University (now called the Pant University of Agriculture and Technology) in Pantnagar, India for my undergraduate education, the first agricultural university that was built in India based on the U.S. land-grant System. I was familiar with the U.S. land-grant system before I arrived in the U.S. as a graduate student.”
After seeing how an investment in a scientific approach to agriculture helped India progress as a nation – going from an importer of goods after it was freed from British Rule in 1947 to a net exporter today – Srivastava was inspired to follow this model and adapt it to other regions.
“Agriculture provided the first layer of stability and food security,” he said. “Food security leads to political security. You need that for any country to progress. “This network of land-grant universities in India made it happen. India continued to invest in education, in agriculture, technology and business, to lay the foundation for long-term economic growth. ‘Why can't we apply a similar approach to Africa?’”
During his 43 years at MSU, Srivastava has helped establish a study abroad program on renewable bioenergy systems offered in Sweden, the Anaerobic Digestion Research and Education Center and south campus anaerobic digester in East Lansing, a pilot scale lab for food safety research, and a collaboration with the University of Costa Rica to help faculty complete their graduate studies at MSU.
Read more on the accomplishments of Ajit Srivastava in a story courtesy of Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering.