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
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.
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.
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.