It is with great sadness that we announce the passing away of Dr. Manmohan Attavar, who left this world on 12 December in Mangalore, India. He was 85 years old.
The Chairman of Indo-American Hybrid Seeds (India) Pvt. Ltd, a vegetable seed major in Asia, Dr. Attavar was an APSA member of long standing and is highly revered in the seed industry, not only in India, but across the region and world.
An Everlasting Legacy
Born in Karnataka, India, on 12 July, 1932, Manmohan obtained his M.Sc. (Agri) in 1961 from the University of Agricultural Sciences in Dharwad (Karnataka), India before continuing his studies abroad. Dr. Attavar was one of a new generation of Indian agro-scientists to study extensively in the USA, earning his Doctorate in Plant Breeding and Genetics at Montana State University in 1964.
He returned to India in 1965 just as the Indian seed industry and the introduction of hybrid seed techniques were taking off. He set up Indo-American Hybrid Seeds (IAHS) in Bangalore, which over the past fifty years has grown to become one of India’s leading seed companies.
Dr. Attavar pioneered the development of vegetable hybrids such as the first commercial hybrid tomato (Karnataka) and Capsicum (Bharath) in 1973. He was the first Indian seedsman to introduce environmentally-controlled greenhouses to India to facilitate year-round seed production. And within two years he was exporting the first Petunia hybrid seeds to the USA. From that time onwards, Indo-American has produced a substantial volume of F1 hybrid flower and vegetable seeds for export.
Moreover, Dr. Attavar was instrumental in introducing the concept and practice of the ‘Lab-to-Land’ nursery management programme to India. He also introduced high quality ornamental plants, produced under controlled conditions of greenhouse in the country. He truly placed India on the global horticulture market.
He (IAHS) is also credited for introducing hybrids in okra, brinjal, gourds, watermelon, muskmelon and onions, along with the first aromatic rice hybrid (Khusboo) and the high-yielding non-aromatic rice hybrids (Samrat) among the Indian farmers. He has also popularized IAHS hybrids in Bt. cotton, sunflower and corn.
His background as a scientist and his commitment to improving vegetable crops and ornamental plants with modern technology led him to establish the Genetic Engineering Laboratory & Commercial Tissue Culture Laboratory in 1987. The company’s seed testing laboratory was the first laboratory of its kind in the private sector in Asia. IAHS Seeds Lab was the first ISTA accredited lab in private sector in Asia.
He has been the recipient of numerous honors and awards by both the Indian Government and the international community. Among them include the Padma Shri, a prestigious civilian award from the India Government, who in 1998 formally recognized Dr. Attavar’s contributions to the field of Horticulture.
He was a Life Member of the International Seed Federation (ISF) and has served on the ISF Board and its various committees. He was also the President of the Association of Seed Industry, India and along with the late Dr. Barwale, was honored for his contributions to the Indian seed industry at the First Indian Seed Congress in 2010 by NSAI.
He has been a member of important policy making committees of the Government of India and the state of Karnataka and has been felicitated for his contributions to horticulture development by National Horticulture Board (NHB), Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), and several scientific societies.
Other awards he has been bestowed include the Dr. M. H. Marigowda National Award, Golden Jubilee International Award of the International Chrysanthemum Society, California and the Rajyotsava State Award (Karnataka).
APSA deeply mourns the sad demise of Dr. Attavar. In his death, the Asian seed industry has lost a respected leader and guide.