15)Developing a Road Map to the Future of the Semi-Arid Tropics (August 2000)

International Experts Convene at ICRISAT to Discuss Critical Issues of Agricultural Research

As part of a futuristic strategy, international experts have gathered together at ICRISAT, Patancheru, Andhra Pradesh, 10-11 August 2000, to discuss critical issues on the semi-arid tropics (dry areas of the rural tropics), relating to Asia.
The brainstorming session is being held so that ICRISAT can be informed by the best judgments in this area.

Eminent authorities from the National Programs of several Asian countries (India, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam) have been invited. One of the main participants is Dr R S Paroda, Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, who is the Vice-Chair of the ICRISAT Governing Board.

Representatives from the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and farmers' associations are also participating
in this brainstorming exercise, the main purpose of which is to address questions, such as:

What will the semi-arid tropics, more commonly known as SAT, look like in the year 2020? Is the future bleak in view of the tremendous population explosion in these regions, which are home to the largest number of poor in the world? World experts predict that most poverty will continue to be concentrated in the rural areas in the next 20 years even though 90% of population growth will be in urban areas.

The new driving forces, such as globalization, biotechnology, information revolution, and environmental concerns will also be discussed in relation to their effect on SAT Agriculture. And finally, the participants will address the issue: What do all these factors imply for ICRISAT's partnership-based research?

The answers to these questions are critical for ICRISAT and its partners to chart the future course of action or as Dr William Dar, ICRISAT Director General put it, "the road map to the future of the semi-arid tropics".

ICRISAT's overarching aim is to reduce poverty in the SAT through science with a human face. Since the dominant activity in rural areas is agriculture, one major solution to rural poverty is through agricultural growth. ICRISAT strongly believes that new technologies can make farming more efficient and productive, accelerating that growth. However, a road map to choose the correct direction is necessary in order to achieve our common goal.

This session is part of a comprehensive strategy that includes:

regional and global consultations with key research and development institutions in the SAT of Asia and Africa;

compilation of information and projections on population, environment, economic indicators, agricultural production and productivity of the SAT;

analysis of the information in relation to poverty reduction, policy issues, and future R&D thrusts in the SAT.

Valuable inputs from this exercise and from similar ones carried out in some of ICRISAT's host countries in Africa will help
in the development of a white paper on the "Future of SAT Agriculture."

ICRISAT has commissioned two external experts of international repute - Drs J G Ryan and Dunstan Spencer - to develop the white paper, which will form the basis of ICRISAT's Vision and Strategy Plan and its Medium-Term Plan.

A symposium to summarize all the global consultations and the analyses of possible SAT Future scenarios will take place on 14 November 2000 at Patancheru.

by ICRISAT. All rights reserved.