Arindam Samaddar began working for International Livestock Research Institute in October 2009 and this is his first Annual program meeting. 'I'm very excited, both by the research I'm doing in India, and by the opportunity to meet new colleagues here,' he says. Being an anthropologist, he brings new skills to ILRI. When Arindam was studying for his PhD, he coined the term ‘agricultural anthropology’, and that tells you much about where he's coming from. 'I have always been interested in exploring agricultural development from an anthropological perspective,' he explains. His early research in the state of Bihar looked at the different ways three separate communities – Hindus, Muslims and tribal communities – approached agricultural tasks. Later, for his PhD, he studied the impact of technology adoption on rice cultivators in West Bengal. Two years of teaching at Calcutta University was followed by a spell with the International Maize and Wheat Development Center (CIMMYT), where he worked in partnership with ILRI scientists on the crop-livestock interactions in conservation agriculture systems in Bangladesh and India. Now, he is providing an anthropological perspective to the Cereal Systems Initiative in South Asia (CSISA), which aims to boost the cereal production of some 6 million arable farmers. So what attracted him to ILRI? "Anthropologists try to understand whole systems, they don't look at problems in isolation, and I think ILRI has a similar approach," he says. "ILRI also has a strong focus on poverty eradication, and that's something that appeals to me as well." He's also excited by the idea of getting his hands dirty – metaphorically speaking. “Up to now, I’ve always focused on research, but with this project I'm going to be involved, for the first time, in practical interventions to help improve farmers’ livelihoods."
An anthropologist at large