The Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India, declared ICRISAT as a Centre of Excellence to support and strengthen active research in the field of tribal development. Dr Peter Carberry, Director General (Acting), ICRISAT and Dr Arvind Padhee, Director, Country Relations and Business Affairs, ICRISAT, formally received the certificate from the Union Minister of Tribal Affairs, Mr Jual Oram, in New Delhi in June.
ICRISAT has been working for the development of tribals in Telangana in partnership with stakeholders. With improved livelihood, employment opportunities and decreased dependence on middle-men, tribal farmers in Adilabad district moved from subsistence to commercial operations. Pigeonpea and sorghum processing units were set up and self-employment opportunities provided for women and youth. Access to quality seed and enhanced knowledge on crop production practices helped tribal farmers increase yields.
Recognizing the need to improve nutrition of children, pregnant women and lactating mothers, the Agribusiness and Innovation Platform at ICRISAT has developed a Nutri-Food basket comprising nutrient-rich food products from locally available ingredients. Served through the anganwadi (early child care) centers in Telangana, it aims to improve dietary diversity. It is now being scaled up to areas under the Integrated Tribal Development Agency in Telangana with the support of the Tribal Welfare Department, Government of Telangana.
Skill development in agriculture and allied sectors through exposure visits and study tours is one of the approaches adopted by ICRISAT to enhance the knowledge of tribal communities and integrate the learning into their daily farming activities. With support provided by the Telangana State Schedule Tribes Co-operative Finance Corporation Ltd., ICRISAT will enhance the capacities of 500 famers by end of this year.
Dr Peter Carberry, reaffirmed ICRISAT’s commitment to smallholder farmers and most-at-need communities. “As a Centre of Excellence, ICRISAT will continue to work closely with tribal families in the country with focus on health and nutrition and enhancing micro-entrepreneurial opportunities thus building sustainable livelihoods.”