6) ICRISAT strengthens partnerships with the private sector

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has strengthened its partnerships with the private sector through its recent understanding with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to work together on improved natural resource management for sustainable rural development. This will strengthen ICRISAT's initiative for partnerships with the private sector through its Agri Science Park.

ICRISAT and CII had organized a joint workshop on 27 February for finding ways to collaborate on sustainable rural development. The Andhra Pradesh Agriculture Minister, Mr N Raghuveera Reddy , participated in the workshop and promised the state government's support for the partnership.

According to Dr William Dar, Director General of ICRISAT, the institute was the first among the 15 international agricultural research centers under the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) to initiate partnerships with the private sector. And this initiative has yielded successful results benefiting the poor and marginal farmers of the semi-arid tropics.

“We strongly believe that collaborative arrangements and strategic alliances are the ways of winning organizations. Our collaborations are geared towards helping mobilize cutting edge science and technology for the well-being of the poor in the semi-arid tropics of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa,” said Dr Dar.

As an innovations- and impact-driven organization, ICRISAT is proactively attuned to external changes. The institute's strategic partnerships with the public and private sectors, NGOs, civil society and international bodies are meant to develop novel approaches that aid the transition from traditional production practices to sustainable systems that are more aligned with current markets.

The Agri-Science Park at ICRISAT is the ‘hub' for public-private partnerships that enhance the development and commercialization of science-generated technologies and knowledge through market mechanisms. It consists of the Agri-Biotech Park (a part of the Genome Valley Initiative of the Andhra Pradesh government); the Agri-Business Incubator with eight private sector partners as incubates; a seeds consortium; and the SAT Eco-Venture ( the agricultural eco-tourism initiative being developed in collaboration with the Andhra Pradesh Department of Tourism).

The recognition of the private sector as a valuable research for development partner led to the formation of the Sorghum and Pearl millet Hybrid Parents Research Consortia with 16 private seed companies becoming consortia members for sorghum, 18 for pearl millet, and 11 being common for both the crops. Products developed with consortia grants are available freely to the public sector.

The Biopesticides Research Consortium (BRC) with 11 biopesticide manufacturers as members, is meant to develop, promote and commercialize the use of biopesticides by farmers. The partnership research will validate protocols for low-cost, commercial-scale production of microbial biopesticides developed at ICRISAT, and will promote agricultural practices that enable low-cost crop protection. The private sector partners will market the biopesticides.

ICRISAT is already partnering with private sector partners for natural resources management (NRM) through watershed development. The institute has been working with Sir Dorabjee Tata Trust to scale-up farmer's participatory watershed development in Guna district of Madhya Pradesh and Boondi district of Rajasthan. In a recently initiated project, ICRISAT is working on an NRM project in Eruvadi village of Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu, in collaboration with the TVS Agri-Sciences Research Institute.

Further, ICRISAT has also been collaborating with private sector companies to achieve crop diversification and market linkages and employment generation in the watersheds. This is by growing medicinal and aromatic plants, developing commercial products and marketing them. Biodiesel plantations are also being incorporated in ICRISAT-led watershed projects.

The collaboration with CII will greatly enhance ICRISAT's collaboration with the private-sector. Initially ICRISAT will be involved with the NRM component of CII's project in Dungarpur district of Rajasthan. The CII-industry group on Dungarpur is taking up business initiatives, which would lead to overall sustainable development of the district. CII also hopes to start a similar project in Andhra Pradesh, an initiative in which ICRISAT could participate.

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