Demand driven and holistic approach across regional and global programs

(L) Dr Sobhan Sajja, Special Project Scientist - Chickpea Breeding, presenting at the Asia Regional Program planning meeting. (R) Participants attending the meeting. Photo: S Punna, ICRISAT

(L) Dr Sobhan Sajja, Special Project Scientist – Chickpea Breeding, presenting at the Asia Regional Program planning meeting. (R) Participants attending the meeting. Photo: S Punna, ICRISAT

The need for demand driven solutions and a science-led holistic approach to obtain efficient solutions across regional and global programs were some key aspects focused on at the Asia Regional Program planning meet held recently.

Participants discussed key issues to reduce hunger and poverty in the semi-arid tropics, and discussed how to build consortiums through effective partnerships to scale up workable solutions to tackle these urgent issues.

Dr SP Wani, Research Program Director, Research Program Asia, initiated the meeting by explaining the importance of building markets for better technologies, holistic understanding of processes, and co-creation of solutions through partnerships between the private sector and the not-for-profit sectors. He stated that through the consortium approach and participatory research and skill development, ICRISAT could build capacities of more partners and play a role in reducing poverty and work towards zero hunger across the semi-arid topics.

Click on the links below to view a few of the presentations from the Asia Regional Program planning meeting:

Dr Kaushal K Garg
Senior Scientist – Natural Resource Management
Water Scarcity and Low Water Use Efficiency

Dr Girish Chander
Senior Scientist – Soil Science
Increasing Land Degradation

Dr AVR Kesava Rao
Scientist – Agroclimatology
Climate Change Impacts in Asia 

Dr Pooran M Gaur
Principal Scientist – Breeding, Grain Legumes
Pulses Self Sufficiency

Dr Ranjit Kumar
Principal Scientist – Economics
Markets and Risks

“Out of 137 million farmers in India, only 1 million farmers are large farm holders, while the rest possess land less than 2 ha. Our model is to address the needs of these farmers through a holistic approach by scaling up technologies and providing international standard analysis in the lab and fields. We need to build an ecosystem to create wealth and building a nodal organization brings increased investment. With the Rythu Kosam project (Andhra Pradesh, India), we are delivering 1,000 Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) and this is how we need to change with the times by thinking outside the barriers of academic logic,” he said.

Dr David Bergvinson, Director General ICRISAT, addressing the gathering via videoconferencing from Rome, emphasized on the importance of pulses and said, “Pulse sufficiency has to be met in the next four years in India, with India and Africa working as a team. ICRISAT needs to apply science to understand the pulses framework and deliver on that goal.”

Dr Peter Carberry, Deputy Director General–Research, ICRISAT, noted from his recent field visits to Malawi and Zimbabwe, that sorghum and millets are being re-introduced in these countries and how this is helping reduce hunger and malnutrition. He also mentioned how ICRISAT’s research in Zimbabwe was being highlighted and strongly supported by all partners.

The group discussed the challenges and opportunities in farming across Asia and presentations made included topics such as climate change impacts in Asia, water scarcity and low water use efficiency, increasing land degradation, markets and risks, and pulses self-sufficiency.

Other presentations made during the regional meet were on current project portfolios and outputs by various departments under the Asia Research Program; strengthening inter-region collaborations; on building partnerships; how the Genetic Gains global program can support the Asia program; innovation systems approach to address challenges of dryland farmers; and importance of monitoring impacts.

One session focused on state and country strategies to help scale up technologies for sustainable development. Presentations covered topics related to Karnataka and pigeonpea, Andhra Pradesh and groundnut, Rajasthan and pearl millet, Myanmar and chickpea, and Thailand.


Participants at the planning meeting. Photo: S Punna, ICRISAT

Dr Ramadjita Tabo, Director, West and Central Africa, spoke about strengthening inter-region collaborations, climate change and adaptation, Mali Agribusiness Incubation Hub (MAIH), among other issues. He also shared West Africa’s experiences and lessons learnt from the national science policy platforms for informed policy planning in Senegal, Ghana, Mali and Burkina Faso.

Dr Moses Siambi, Director, Eastern and Southern Africa, briefed participants about the major projects that are presently underway in Ethiopia, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique and the steps required to scale up and take them forward.

During the brainstorming session, participants split into smaller groups and brainstormed on what needs to be done to help improve the Asia Research Program, what were the weaknesses that needed refinement, what as a team one could stop doing, strategies for scaling-up and how the team could conserve resources and enhance efficiency.

Groups were of the opinion that there was a need to strengthen data management, enhance synergy across programs and discipline, improve and centralize institutional funding, project the program as an Asia program and not as an Indian program. The groups felt that the team should stop working in silos and start building more effective partnerships, and avoid work duplication between departments and scientists.

Almost all groups stressed on increasing partnerships and taking the consortium approach; demonstrating on-site success through case studies; enabling better policies to create positive impact; provide need/context based solutions; and have a mass outreach by using tools such as ICT and digital agriculture.

On conserving resources, the groups agreed upon the need to harness solar energy; initiate a need based sharing of resources between teams; share work travel, and use low cost and effective technologies.

The 2-day meeting was held on 4-5 May and was attended by more than 80 participants.

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