Dr. Gowri Sankara Rao

Dr. Gowri Sankara Rao, Dean & Professor, Mohan Babu University, Tirupati

I Dr. Gowri SankaraRao, am a self-motivated agricultural literate with a doctoral degree in Seed Science and Technology from the coveted Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI, also called Pusa Institute), New Delhi, and a master’s degree in Genetics and Plant Breeding from Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University, Hyderabad. My earlier education at Andhra Pradesh Residential Junior College has imbibed a deep sense of discipline, sincerity, responsibility, accountability, punctuality, courtesy, and attention to detail in me.

Before joining my Ph.D., I worked as a Research Associate in the Hybrid Rice project at the Directorate of Rice Research, Hyderabad. I was curious about developing superior rice hybrids with only limited male sterile lines (IR 58025A & IR 62829A). I have conceptualized a project for the diversification of restorer (male) parents for creating more superior hybrids. In this process, I have proposed to undertake intersubspecific (indica X japonica) wide hybridization for creating enormous variability. This concept was taken forward by my wife Dr. Prabhavathi Kona during her doctoral research work at DRR, Hyderabad.

Since I am from an urban background and my first wish was to become a doctor, I was reluctant and unprepared for agricultural sciences in the first 2 semesters. After meeting one of our seniors Dr. G.V. Ramanjaneyulu, my perception has got completely changed and I started traveling in rural areas during holidays/vacations for understanding the pain and gain of being a farmer. The rampant occurrence of farmer suicides instigated me to understand the ground realities and major concerns of farmers and rural communities. I found that non-availability of quality seeds and the prevalence of spurious seeds especially in commercial crops like cotton, tomato, chilies are one of the main reasons for excessive opex, and when the crop fails, farmers get low returns or no returns which may not suffice to repay the loans. Hence, socio-economic-cultural humiliations lead farmers to their extreme decisions.

Aforesaid observations compelled me to pursue my research acumen in Crop Improvement and Seed Science. Incidentally, I joined master’s and doctoral degrees in Seed Science and Technology. I have pursued my research “Effect of biochemical and physiological processes during seed maturation on the seed quality in Sunflower” for my masters; and “Use of biochemical and molecular markers for identification of the genetic identity of cotton hybrids, and use of markers for genetic purity testing”.

After obtaining my Ph.D. in 2000, I joined my first job at ICAR Indian Institute of Vegetable Research, Varanasi. I actively participated in national seeds projects, breeder seed production unit, DUS testing, and various maintenance breeding and seed multiplication projects. In many conferences, I was making my take on seed systems being followed in India and various anomalies within them which had been hampering the availability of quality seeds to farmers. I was also very much vocal about the bulging of national gazette/registry with a rampant release of crop varieties year after year, and non-availability of their seeds to farmers. This is just because of an innate inability of public sector NARS and NSP.

Incidentally, I felt that there is a need for Public-Private Partnerships for promoting technologies developed by PSUs, and also helping them in resource generation. I resigned from my ICAR position in 2005, and joined the Indian Foundation Seed and Services Association (IFSSA) which was the brainchild of Dr. Wayne Freeman. In IFSSA, we created tripartite agreements between public and private sector players. In the history of Indian agriculture, we were successful in generating royalty/resource generation for IARI for their first basmati rice hybrid Pusa RH 10. Similarly, we developed associations with ICRISAT, JNKVV, VPKAS, CRRI etc.

I always had a love for becoming an entrepreneur, and so, I started my own research based seed company “Sabasta”. We invested a lot in hybrid development projects of rice, corn, chilies, tomato etc. Our model of having research based institute proved financially unsustainable as we could not find funding agencies, and seed marketing is an absolute unfair and unethical business. After surviving huge losses, I gave up my endeavors.

In order to recover from financial set back, I migrated to the Sultanate of Oman as an agricultural manager (agronomist), and I got exposed to highly sophisticated and mechanized farming systems wherein we produced various fodders and forages (silage, grasses) for feeding approximately 5000 HF cows; and grains like corn and soya for 7 lakh poultry birds.

Incidentally, I also provided consultancy for establishing agricultural farms at Conakry (Guniee) and Uganda.

Subsequently, I have got interesting work opportunities viz., production of safe vegetables (Srinivasa Hatcheries Group) and irrigation on hire (AgriRain SOAG).

To my surprise, one of the eminent deemed to be universities (Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, NMIMS) found my diverse experiences and management skills suitable for leading their school of agricultural sciences and technology, and so, I was offered the position of Dean. Thus, I became an academician from being a researcher to an entrepreneur to a business manager/leader. Currently, I working as Dean, School of Agriculture, Mohan Babu University, Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh.

Educational background

Degree & Discipline

Institute / University

Year of passing

Major / Minor Fields

B.Sc. (Ag.)

Agricultural College, Bapatla, APAU


Agricultural Sciences

M.Sc. (Ag.)

College of Agriculture, Rajendranagar, Hyderabad, APAU


Genetics & Plant Breeding (Major);

Seed Science & Technology, Plant Physiology, Biochemistry, Agronomy (Minors)


Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi


Seed Science & Technology (Major);

Plant Genetics, Plant Physiology; Plant Biochemistry; Molecular Biology & Plant Biotechnology (Minors)

National Eligibility Test (NET)

Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board (ASRB), New Delhi

1997 1999

Seed Science and Technology

Details of Post Graduate - M.Sc. (Ag.) Research Thesis Work

Title: Seed Maturation Studies in Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) L.

Details of Chairman & Members: Dr. M. Lawrence (Genetics & Plant Breeding), Dr. Padmaja (Plant Physiology), Dr. Nagraj (Biochemistry), Dr. R.S. Kulkarni (Agricultural Statistics)

Brief Abstract:

Seeds in different whorls showed varying embryo to endosperm ratio, protein, amino acid, and fatty acid profile

Our results showed that seeds of varying whorls and maturity stages show differential seed germination, early seed vigor, viability, and storability

Details of Doctoral Degree – Ph.D. Research Thesis Work

Title: Biochemical methods for identification and genetic purity testing of cotton (Gossypium spp.) hybrids

Details of Chairman & Members:

Dr. Malavika Dadlani (Seed Science & Technology) - Chairperson

Dr. S.P. Sharma (Seed Science & Technology) – Co-Chairman

Dr. G.C. Srivastava (Plant Physiology) - Member 

Dr. I. M. Shantha (Biochemistry) - Member

Dr. Trilochan Mahapatra (Plant Biotechnology) - Member

Brief Abstract:

Hybrids and their parental lines were differentiated based on the Electrophoresis of total soluble seed proteins, globulins, and seven isoenzymes i.e., ACP, EST, ADH, SOD, MDH, CAT, and POX etc

Hybrids and their parental lines were differentiated based on the RAPD markers with 5-6 primers in each hybrid combination

Our results of field grow-out tests and electrophoresis analysis for genetic purity testing of commercial hybrid seed lots were highly comparable (r= 0.85**)

Our results showed a possibility to reduce the sample size for genetic purity testing from 400 to 200 plants in grow-out test and from 200 to 50 seeds for quick estimation following the electrophoresis technique

Details of Technical Training

Seed Industry Program on Traits – Markets – Growth - Leadership, Cornell-in-India & Sathguru

Fundamentals of Organic Farming, Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Hyderabad

Training Program on Climate Smart Technologies for Improving Farm Productivity, MANAGE, Hyderabad 

Statistical Techniques useful for DUS Testing, NBPGR, New Delhi

Advances in Hybrid Seed Technology, Seed Invigoration, and DUS Testing for Plant Variety Protection, NATP, New Delhi

Foundation Course for Agricultural Research Services (FOCARS), NAARM, Hyderabad

RAPD marker analysis in Cotton Hybrids, BARC, Trombay

Integrated Seed Improvement Training Programme, National Seeds Corporation, New Delhi

Details of Leadership Training

Landmark Forum; Landmark Forum in Action Seminar; Advanced Leadership Course; Self-Expression and Leadership Program
Strategic Management Program, Vanto Group
Vipassana Meditation (2 Sessions)
Art of Living (2 Levels)

About Dr. Gowri SankaraRao’s accomplishments

Dean, School of Agriculture, Mohan Babu University, Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, India

Roles & Accomplishments

Development and implementation of regulations as per the Vision, Mission, and Goal            Statements of the University

Establishment of Board of Studies, Academic Council, Advisory board with experts from         various stakeholders like academics & research institutes, industry, farming                            communities, extension workers etc.

Establishment of research farm and laboratories

Development of Course Structure, Course Contents, Teaching Schemes, and advanced         pedagogy Teaching Principles of Plant Genetics, Fundamentals of Plant Breeding,                    Fundamentals of Biotechnology, Rural Sociology & Psychology, Human Values & Ethics         etc

Founder & CEO, V FarmGro Solutions, Hyderabad, India

Roles & Accomplishments

Offering complete farming consultancy services pertaining to Agriculture, Horticulture,            Dairy, Goat & Sheep Farming, Poultry

Offering services pertaining to Land Use Planning (LUP), Water Use Planning (LUP),            Cropping Systems Planning (CSP)

Offering technical and financial assistance services like advising dependable business            plans, preparation of bankable project proposals, pitching to right sources, assisting with         suitable government schemes etc.

Training and skill development programs

Assistance in contract farming models 

Establishment of forward and backward linkages for agribusiness entrepreneurs

Dean, School of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (www.agriculture.nmims.edu), SVKM's NMIMS Deemed to be University, Shirpur, Maharashtra, India

Roles & Accomplishments

Coordinating the development and implementation of the University and College’s                    Vision, Mission, and Goal Statements

Established Teams for the Board of Studies, Academic Council, Advisory board with                experts from various stakeholders like academics & research institutes, industry, farming         communities, extension workers etc.

Developed Course Structure, Course Contents, Teaching Schemes, and advanced                pedagogy and employed learned teaching & non-teaching faculty from coveted institutes

Established MoUs & MoAs with leading Stakeholders 

Created various Clubs / Societies / Centres like Career/Passion Mapping, Literary                    Cultural, Sports & Games, NSS & NCC, Photography, Research Journal “International            Journal of Progressive Agriculture”

Providing recommendations to the Vice Chancellor on policies & procedures pertaining            to academics, teaching & research, recruitment of faculty, admissions etc.

Establishment of academic & non-academic facilities, research farm facilities on 115                acres

Senior Consultant, AgriRain Industries India Pvt Ltd (www.agrirain.com), Hyderabad, India

Roles & Accomplishments

Technical Evaluation, Designing, and Operation of commercial-scale projects for successful utilization of precision irrigators like hose-reels and central pivots

Bringing in appropriate land use planning (LUP), water use planning (WUP), and Cropping Systems Planning designs for increasing farm productivity and profitability

Bringing in value for every drop of water by developing appropriate farm production models

Undertaken survey, planning, and execution of measured & metered irrigation on a hired basis for Chickpea crops at critical stages in Central Seed Farms (NSC) & recorded an increase of 22% in yield with one 20 mm rain during the pre-flowering stage.

Undertaken survey, planning, and execution of measured & metered irrigation on hired basis for groundnut crops at critical stages in liaison with Rural Development Trust (RDT), Anantapur

Assistant General Manager (Agriculture Projects), Srinivasa Farms Pvt Ltd, Srinivasa Hatcheries Ltd (www.srinivasafarms.com), Hyderabad, India

Roles & Accomplishments

Organic Farming – Standardization and Commercial Production of vegetables and fruits without using hazardous agri-chemicals. 
Integration of organic produce with supply chain of poultry products in company’s outlets 
Production of value-added fodder(s) for Intensive farming and Zero Grazing of Goats
Production of grains (Corn & Soybean) for poultry feed-mill operations by Contract Farming

Agriculture Manager & Member, Management Committee, Dhofar Cattle Feed Co SAOG (www.alsafwahdairy.com), Salalah, Sultanate of Oman

Roles & Accomplishments

Regular evaluation and assessment of soil and water quality for planning an appropriate cropping systems and water use planning
Production of various fodder & forage crops under central pivots and hosereels /  rainguns
Fodder and Grain production for meeting requirements of dairy animals
Production of silage (Corn, Sorghum, Millet) and bales (Rhodes grass & Alfalfa)
Commercial cultivation and marketing of Corn, Banana and Papaya

CEO & Managing Director, Sabasta Crop Technology (www.sabasta.in), a Self-Invested Seed Company

Roles & Accomplishments

Project Planning, Product Development, Product Evaluation, Seed Production, Quality Control, Market Surveillance, Marketing & Sales of seeds
Development of Hybrids of Maize, Paddy & Vegetables
Seed production of parental lines and hybrids through contract farming (Rannebennur, Eluru, Warangal, Karimnagar, Nizamabad, Karnal etc)

Lead, Seed Quality & Research at Indian Foundation Seed & Services Association (www.ifssa.org.in), Hyderabad, India, a first of its kind Public-Partnership Initiative in India

Roles & Accomplishments

Liaison between Public Sector Research Institutes and Private seed companies
Enrollment of private seed companies as members of IFSSA
Identification & popularization of promising technologies of the Public Sector which haven’t gained desired market presence e.g., VQPM-9 Corn hybrids, Pusa RH-10 Paddy Hybrid, HHB-67 improved millet hybrid), Maintenance Breeding, Quality Foundation Seed Production and Sharing of Foundation Seed with private seed companies, AND making revenue generation for PSUs in the form of Royalty
Seed production of parental lines and hybrids through contract farming (Kashipur, Karnal, Sri Ganganagar, Agra, Kurnool, Nizamabad, Karimnagar)
DNA fingerprinting and Genetic Purity Testing
Successfully generated royalty amount of 73 lakhs to IARI, New Delhi against the  popularization of their first basmati rice hybrid (Pusa RH 10)                            (https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Dr-Badrinarayan-R-Barwale-handing-over-the-royalty-to-Dr-S-A-Patil-Director-IARI_fig11_308166445)

Scientist (Seed Technology) at Indian Institute of Vegetable Research (www.iivr.icar.gov.in), Varanasi, India, a Public-Sector Research (ICAR) Institute

Roles & Accomplishments

Team member of National Seed Project & Breeder Seed Program of AICRP (Vegetables)
DUS testing of Tomato, Chillies, Eggplant, Cauliflower & Cabbage
Planning and conduct of various adhoc / institutional and external funded projects viz.,
DNA fingerprinting & genetic purity testing of vegetable hybrids
Physiological and biochemical studies of seed maturation & quality
Physiological and biochemical studies of seed deterioration and storability
Seed Production through Contract farming by following Seed Village Concept

Lecturer (Seed Technology), Dept. Botany, A.V. College of Arts, Science & Commerce, Hyderabad, a Private Educational Institute

Roles & Accomplishments

Taught various courses in Genetics, Plant Breeding, Seed Science, and Technology to Undergraduate students of B.Sc. (Seed Technology)
Organized Practical Learning viz., identification of crops, growing of plants, crossings, microbial observations, seed production, and processing
Organized Practical visits to production areas, seed processing plants, and seed cold storage units viz., Medchal, Mahanandi, Nandikotkur
Arranged placement cell for campus interviews and study abroad

Overseas Consultant (Astarc Farms, Uganda; Buddhavarapu Farms, Conakry, Guinee; Project Ayur, Guyana; GLG, & Dialectica)

Roles & Accomplishments

Visiting & Surveying Land banks, soil testing, water testing, weather data analysis
Providing Land Use Planning, Water Use Planning, Cropping Systems Planning
Setting backward and forward linkages for resources/inputs and sale of agricultural produce
Project Planning and Execution with minute detailing
Integrated farming systems of growing various crops and livestock
Creating water sources, micro-irrigation systems with drip, central pivots, and hosereel
Creating farm mechanization systems

Dr. Gowri Sankara Rao’s research works

One of the findings of my Ph.D. research offers quick and accurate markers for the identification of a cotton hybrid and assessing/ascertaining the genetic purity of hybrid seedlots.
A method of sib-mating followed by screening for true-to-type plants in a population helps in maintaining the genetic identity of varieties as well as parental lines (maintenance breeding).
Cropping systems and selection of crops/plants based on water use planning and land use planning increase the sustainability and profitability.
Adoption of suitable packaging material and maintenance of optimal conditions increases the storability.

Dr. Gowri Sankara Rao’s career in the agricultural industry

One and only motivational factor for pursuing a career in agricultural sciences is unstinting compassion for serving farmers and rural youth. I always wish that Indian farmers produce quality crops and their produce fetch abundant returns for their livelihood. Rural societies shall be revitalized with more opportunities for involving rural youth and women in livelihood processes. The migration of rural communities in search of meager labour work in urban places will be a disaster in the days to come. Hence, agriculture and rural societies shall be encouraged and involved in integrated farming systems.


Sustainability in Agriculture

In my opinion, sustainability in agriculture is very important. The farming and rural livelihoods shall be integrated into diverse agricultural operations right from production to value-addition processes so that their products get good returns. Sustainability shall start right from enriching the soil health and nutrition because the soil is the primary resources that decides the dividends to be obtained upon all expenses made on various factors of agricultural production. All rural societies shall be made self-sustainable for the sources of organic composts, soil microbial consortia, safe chemicals with low toxicity. An amicable system of value addition, participatory rural appraisal for fixation of prices, regulation of natural resources like water, environmental safety etc.


Dr. Gowri Sankara Rao - Ph.D. journey

The trigger point for my doctoral research project came from my observations and concern over farmer’s suicides and the reason behind their suicides i.e., non-availability of quality seeds and rampant sale of spurious hybrid cotton seeds. Indian farmers spend a lot of money buying seeds as well as land preparation which includes ploughing, leveling and making beds; purchase & application of fertilizers etc. A farmer cannot understand the quality of the seed whether the seeds belong to designated hybrid or non-hybrid or admixtures etc till the plant grows to flower or boll formation which means almost 100 plus days. Thus, the fate and future of the farmers remain in a stalemate till the flowering stage. 

With the help of Dr. Gopala Krishna (BARC), I conceptualized a quick and reliable technique for assessing the seed purity in less than a day by using molecular markers. However, the sample size for the designated field grow test is 400 seeds. However, testing 400 seeds using molecular markers becomes very costly, and hence, with the help of sequential sampling procedure, I obtained a sample size of 40 seeds more replicable and reliable.

In the process of my Ph.D. research, I was lucky to get associated with eminent researchers like Dr. Gopala Krishna (BARC), Dr. Malavika Dadlani, Dr. Trilochan Mahapatra (former DG, ICAR), Dr. G.C. Srivastava (eminent Crop Physiologist) etc.

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