A robust, more efficient research structure is part of the reorganization initiative at ICRISAT that aims at building a cohesive and interconnected body of work in agricultural research. The revitalized framework is expected to seamlessly integrate and deliver agricultural research outputs across the drylands of Asia and Africa. The strength of this framework is the deeply interlinked global and regional programs working towards common and interdependent goals.
Under the leadership of Dr Jacqueline d’Arros Hughes, Director General, ICRISAT, research will now be grouped under 3 Global research programs, implemented through 18 research clusters, supported by 3 Regional Directors – one each for Asia, Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) and West and Central Africa (WCA):
- Accelerated Crop Improvement: This program will develop market-driven climate-resilient nutritious cultivars with high yield potential and accelerated genetic gain utilizing genebank accessions, genomics, breeding, physiology, disease-insect protection, together with modern tools of speed breeding and data-driven decisions. It will enable quick access of quality seed of improved varieties to farmers through improved seed systems.
- Resilient Farm and Food Systems: The program will address the critical issues of water management and land degradation in the drylands. Innovations to help smallholders adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change on agriculture will be a focus of this program. Our continued success in watershed interventions and soil health improvement will be useful in increasing incomes, enhancing sustainability and imparting climate resilience.
- Enabling Systems Transformations: This program will focus on nutrition, agribusiness innovation and women-youth empowerment. It will work to enable better policies and facilitate innovations, markets linkages and capacity development to transform farm and food systems and improve livelihoods and incomes of smallholder farmers in the drylands.
The three programs contain a blend of research modalities, viz. foundation, translational, local adaptive and scaling for impact.
The activities in the three Global research programs will be implemented in Asia, ESA and WCA as part of several initiatives/projects between 2021 and 2023 through partnerships with different stakeholders, including South-South collaboration for inter-regional technology transfer. The Accelerated Crop Improvement program will develop new market-driven crop varieties, while the Resilient Farm and Food Systems program will develop agronomic practices that conserve soil and water resources and minimize climate risk. Finally, the Enabling Systems Transformation program will explore socio-economic and policy environments for upscaling of new varieties and management practices in the drylands and even beyond.
As part of the restructuring at ICRISAT, three Regional Directors – one each for Asia, ESA and WCA – will now be responsible for regional implementation of the activities of the Global research programs, management of ICRISAT facilities and support in the respective regions, in addition to managing regional and country relationships with support from seven country representatives.
The 18 research clusters are grouped by their research activities in same/similar research areas. (See infographic below)
Apart from the global and regional clusters, our research support services play a crucial role in enabling the smooth and efficient functioning of the organization’s research activities. These are:
- Farm and Engineering Services
- Crop Improvement Operations Team
- Sequencing and Genotyping Services
- Rapid Generation Advancement Services
- Phenotyping of Plant Biotic Stresses
- Phenotyping for Abiotic Stresses and Nutrition
- Data Management and Analytical Support
“In 2021, we carry on further into our journey with new hopes and goals, a clear vision and great expectations from ourselves and our partners to deliver the best possible support and outputs to the most important stakeholders – the smallholder farmers,” said Dr Hughes, emphasizing the significance of the new structure.
The research structure at ICRISAT