5) ICRISAT Rededicates itself to the Vision of the World Food Day (October 2000)

"We have come a long way since the days of large-scale famines in Asia. But ICRISAT's challenge to help developing countries reduce hunger and environmental degradation in the semi-arid tropics remains as urgent as ever in the new millennium," said Dr. William D. Dar, Director General, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), in the context of the World Food Day.

Citing recent cases of severe droughts in parts of India and in the Horn of Africa, Dr. Dar said that technologies resulting from ICRISAT's partnership-based research, such as crop varieties that escape drought by maturing early, have helped the rural communities immensely during such disasters.

"Over 400 improved varieties developed by ICRISAT and its partners have been released in 170 countries, contributing to sharp increases in productivity in the semi-arid tropics," Dr Dar specified, emphasizing that agriculture is at the heart of any effective solution in this region.

"And agriculture is about people, food for people, and how people work together to sustain life," said Dr. Dar. "The positive effects of agricultural technology on poverty reduction are vividly evident. This is especially true where human nourishment and sustenance are involved."

ICRISAT seeks to improve the most important staples of the poor in the semi-arid tropics as well as the management of land and water resources of this region, where about 300 million people survive on less than a dollar a day.

"This year's World Food Day theme of A millennium free of hunger is, therefore, highly relevant to what ICRISAT is striving to achieve in the semi-arid tropics. This is what we like to call Science with a Human Face," observed Dr. Dar, highlighting some of the achievements of ICRISAT's partnership-based research:

  • ICRISAT has shown that by using integrated watershed management technology, up to 4 tons of grains per hectare can be harvested from drylands, with about 60% reductions in soil and water loss

  • This technology is being transferred to farmers using community-based approach in India, Thailand, and Vietnam with support from the Asian Development Bank

  • By adopting environment-friendly pest management technologies, farmers in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Vietnam have reduced up to 100% the use of insecticide in some areas

  • In sub-Saharan Africa, 92 improved varieties developed by ICRISAT and national research teams have been released. The new varieties offer yield increases of 20% or more over traditional varieties

  • Improved millet cultivars developed by ICRISAT and its partners are grown in more than two-thirds of the total area under millet in India

  • • In Andhra Pradesh (India), chickpea production registered a sevenfold increase following the introduction of new varieties. The additional produce adds US$ 48 million annually to the state's gross domestic product

  • ICRISAT developed the world's first pigeonpea hybrid, ICPH 8, which reached farmers' fields in 1991

  • "With support from development investors and sponsors, such as the World Bank, FAO, and UNDP, we are increasingly taking the help of our partners to deliver the technologies to the people who need them most," Dr Dar remarked.

    The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is a non-profit, apolitical, international organization for science-based agricultural development. Established in 1972, it is a Future Harvest Center supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

by ICRISAT. All rights reserved.