Newsroom  Press releases  2002

10) ICRISAT Ventures into Social Marketing, 29 April, 2002

ICRISAT, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, is making a concerted effort to initiate social marketing strategies to: (1) Attract funds from the development investors, (2) Tap the private sectors and other non-traditional funding sources, and (3) Become financially self-sustaining by using its infrastructure and knowledge base.
This marketing strategy is crucial because of the rapidly changing agricultural research environment across the world. There has been a decline of over 50% of public or ODA (overseas development assistance) funds for agricultural research. At the same time, there has been a marked increase in private sector investments.

"We have to go to social marketing to identify assets of the institute that could be further developed to generate some revenues for ICRISAT. This is an approach to focus on key products for development," says Dr William D Dar, Director General, ICRISAT.

Keeping these dynamics in mind, ICRISAT hosted a Strategic Marketing Workshop conducted by two American training facilitators John Riggan of The Conservation Company and Richard Steckle of AddVenture Networks, Inc USA was held here in ICRISAT-Patancheru during the first week of March.

The Ford Foundation, through a grant to the CGIAR (Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research), funded the facilitators. This CG-Ford program is meant to help develop and widen the funding base of each of 16 centers, of which ICRISAT is one.

The workshop sought to create awareness of the need for alternative funding sources – mainly foundations and the private sector – through social marketing and strategic business alliances. The idea is to tap new resources and identify ICRISAT's niche or comparative advantages. The main output was a Global Action Plan for CGIAR and ICRISAT's strategic marketing. And the result was the identification of strategic assets for social marketing. A strategic asset is a unique product, capacity or service, which has direct or intrinsic value.

The workshop helped identify nine assets for further development. They are:

  • Science/Biotech park: ICRISAT will build joint venture projects that assist start-up biotech companies to establish a service platform that will fuel a strong and dynamic agri-business. 
  • Community information centers for people empowerment 
  • Novel food products/novel traits: ICRISAT will pioneer uncommon or non-traditional use of food products 
    Watersheds: Although watershed work is not new, ICRISAT, along with partners in local government institutions, has developed a new model for developing and managing watersheds sustainably 
  • Seed Systems: This initiative, chiefly designed for Africa, involves identifying and supporting viable markets for seeds 
  • Africa Market Gardens: Another Africa centric initiative, these gardens are designed to make the most of extremely poor farming conditions 
  • Village Level Studies: These studies are in demand globally. They are a valuable panel data that provides an in-depth understanding of livelihoods 
  • Eco Tourism: This idea will bring stakeholders to ICRISAT to gain an appreciation for the natural resources of the research farm at Patancheru 
  • Genebank: ICRISAT's extensive collection of seeds will provide the raw material for improvement of crops in India and through the dry tropics

For more information contact: Barry Shapiro, Head Resource Mobilization Office, ICRISAT, Ph: 3296161.

by ICRISAT. All rights reserved.