Key Achievements

ICRISAT’s key achievements in 2021 range from being awarded the prestigious Africa Food Prize to being acknowledged for our innovative work in water conservation and soil health, developing varieties and seed systems to winning a corporate social responsibility award for our partners in watershed management.

ICRISAT has been awarded the 2021 Africa Food Prize for work that has improved food security across 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Between 2007 and 2019, ICRISAT led the Tropical Legumes Project in collaboration with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and other partners and developed 266 improved legume varieties and almost half a million tons of seed for a range of legume crops, including cowpea, pigeonpea, chickpea, common bean, groundnut, and soybean.

The India CSR Network has awarded the “Best Watershed Project in Agriculture” to Mahindra & Mahindra Limited (M&M) for its ICRISAT-led watershed development efforts. The program involved creating 51 water harvesting structures in Buchinelli village in Telangana, India. The three year effort has led to the harvesting of 137,000 m3 rainwater every year, benefitting around 150 farmers.

“ICRISAT’s leadership in developing seeds that not only end malnut0rition but also survive in semi-arid areas is inspiring other agricultural organisations to rethink seed development and farming practices that suit and solve Africa’s agricultural challenges.”
H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, the Chair of the Africa Food Prize Committee and former President, Federal Republic of Nigeria


Research Highlights

With the shipment of 3700 accessions, 91% of ICRISAT genebank collection has been safety duplicated at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The shipment included 2041 accessions of sorghum, 969 of pearl millet, 39 of pigeonpea, 221 of finger millet, 80 of groundnut and 350 of chickpea.

Led by ICRISAT, an international team of researchers from 41 organizations has assembled chickpea’s pan-genome by sequencing the genomes of 3366 chickpea lines from 60 countries. The team identified 29870 genes that includes 1582 previously unreported novel genes.

ICRISAT sorghum lines demonstrated high resistance to fungal disease. Among 158 sorghum lines that were tested in Pennsylvania, USA for resistance to the fungal disease anthracnose leaf blight, ICRISAT lines, specifically ICSB94, showed the highest level of resistance in the field. These lines will be useful in breeding sorghum for north-eastern United States.

Launched 4CAST, a digital seed variety catalog tool created by ICRISAT in partnership with public and private institutions. It is a user-friendly data driven platform that provides information about new improved varieties, quality and availability of seeds.

The National Seed Committee of Burkina Faso announced pearl millet hybrid Nafagnon’s registration in the National Seed Catalog, making it the country’s first pearl millet hybrid to be approved and the first single-cross hybrid to be approved for commercial use in West and Central Africa.

A new groundnut variety ‘Kalinga Groundnut-101’was released in Odisha (India) as an alternative to ‘Devi’, the popular variety. Both the varieties are of ICRISAT origin. Kalinga Groundnut-101 (ICGV 02266) was released by the Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) at the State Varietal Release Committee (SVRC) in Aug 2021.

ICRISAT researchers zeroed in on little millet germplasm with high nutrient content, high yield and biomass potential following analysis of 200 landraces conserved in our Genebank in India. The study found 10 accessions with promising seed weight, 15 with high grain yield potential, 15 with high biomass yield potential and 30 with consistently high grain nutrient content.


Invigorate: For greater efficiency

ICRISAT underwent a structural reorganization in 2021 to reposition ourself as an effective global partner to help deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals. As the global knowledge leader in dryland agricultural science, our mandate as an Institute dictates that we remain ultra-responsive to the challenges faced by the 2.1 billion people who reside in the drylands of Asia, subSaharan Africa and beyond. Our approach, much like the approach of dryland farmers, is grounded in pragmatism and solutions that simply work. For fifty years, this has been and will continue to be our approach to the calling from the world’s poorest, for hardier, more nutritious and now, more climate-resilient crops, on which they depend. No longer can the developmental space rely solely on traditional approaches, for progress, is often too slow in coming to those left behind. Our new revitalized institutional research structure has been seamlessly integrated for enhanced interdepartmental cooperation, agility, responsiveness, and new ways of working with and not just on behalf of smallholder farmers.

 Aligning with the global agricultural research agenda, our renewed approach will leverage:

 1) Foundational research: Research to address existing knowledge gaps and innovations to address critical needs.

2) Translational research: Application of knowledge and discoveries from foundational research to develop innovations (products/technologies) to achieve on-the ground impacts.

3) Local adaptive research: Focus on local country level needs by involving national stakeholders and partners from both public and private sectors.

4) Scaling for impact: Support the uptake of improved products, technologies, practices, and market policy arrangements, thereby creating an enabling environment through policy change and impact.


Innovate: For better impacts

Changing climate, water scarcity and outbreaks of pests and diseases threaten food production, which affects the ability to produce more food required to meet the needs of a growing population in the drylands of Asia and Africa. The prevailing issues around nutrition are not just limited to developing nations. They speak to the need to transform agriculture in developed nations to address the rising incidence of non-communicable diseases such as obesity. ICRISAT aims to address these cascading problems around agriculture, food and environment by developing highly productive, resilient and nutritionally enhanced dryland crops.


Integrate: For improved livelihoods and enhanced natural resource management

Agricultural landscapes are constantly changing; the current pandemic, climate shocks and global conflicts have caused supply chain disruptions, pushing millions into extreme hunger, driving people from their homes and damaging crops and livestock production. It is not adequate to address the problems around agriculture, food and nutrition in silos. An integrated approach where agricultural interventions are responsive to the changing climate, the market and the social dynamics is imperative. ICRISAT has developed and piloted a user-friendly framework for multi-dimensional assessment of farming systems sustainability using 124 indicators across five domains- i. Economic ii. Environmental iii. Social iv. Productivity v. Human well-being, and several themes. This tool is an effective decision support tool for development stakeholders and policymakers to identify entry point activities, co-design domainspecific sustainability interventions and track the impact of sustainability indicators at a farm household level. This framework has been recognized by the CGIAR as one of its “Golden Eggs” innovation. ICRISAT’s approach in integrating agriculture with natural resource management, local livelihoods while incorporating gender dynamics has sustained the benefits of various interventions for smallholder farmers.

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