17) ICRISAT-led CGIAR Research Programs to boost food, nutrition and income security of dryland poor

Hyderabad, India, 22 October 2012 –The Fund Council of CGIAR, the world’s largest international agriculture research coalition, recently approved two ten-year research programs aimed at improving the food, nutrition and income security of billions of poor in the dryland tropics of the world.

The CGIAR Research Programs on Grain Legumes, and Dryland Cereals, led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) based in Hyderabad, India, have a combined three-year budget of US$223.4 million, and are part of CGIAR’s bold effort to contribute in reducing world hunger, malnutrition and poverty while decreasing the environmental footprint of agriculture.

Legumes are the cheapest option to improve nutrition of poor people who rely on inexpensive but nutritionally-imbalanced starchy diets. Meanwhile, dryland cereals are often the only possible crops in harsh dryland environments where more than a billion of the Earth’s poorest inhabitants live. “The two global research-for-development collaborations are vital in sustainably increasing production of grain legumes and dryland cereals, improving the poor’s nutrition, and identifying policies and institutions necessary for smallholder farmers in rural communities, particularly women, to access markets and improve their livelihoods,” said ICRISAT Director General William Dar.

The CRP on Grain Legumes is a partnership among four members of the CGIAR Centers: ICRISAT as lead center, International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), along with other principal partners. The CRP on Dryland Cereals is a partnership between two members of the CGIAR Consortium – ICRISAT as lead center, and ICARDA, and other global partners.

The grain legumes program aims to benefit 300 million smallholder farm households from an average 20% yield increase by the end of its first 10-year cycle, with a projected US$4.5 billion savings as cumulative benefits of increased food production and nitrogen fertilizer saved (from the crops’ ability fix atmospheric nitrogen).

This program focuses on improving chickpea, common bean, cowpea, groundnut, faba bean, lentil, pigeonpea and soybean crops grown by poor families in five regions (in order of production area and numbers of poor people): South and Southeast Asia, Western and Central Africa, Eastern and Southern Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Central and Western Asia and North Africa.

The dryland cereals program focuses on millets, sorghum, and barley. Demand for these crops will increase by nearly 50 percent by 2020 compared to the beginning of the millennium. About 70-80% of the grain produced is consumed by the poor as food, with the remainder used for feed and other non-food uses. The challenge is to raise the productivity of these crops to meet the growing demand, while retaining or even increasing their resilience against stresses.

In 10 years, this program targets a sustainable 16% increase in dryland cereal farm-level production on at least 11.8 million hectares in Africa and Asia.  Improved technologies will also be made available to 5.8 million smallholder households – 34.0 million total beneficiaries in target regions.

For more information about ICRISAT, please visit: www.icrisat.org.

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