15)ICRISAT unveils market-oriented research strategy for dryland smallholder farmers

A way in which science can be better harnessed to help bring about prosperity in the drylands of the developing world has been mapped out.  Meeting at Arusha, Tanzania last week, the Governing Board of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) approved its new research strategy for the next ten years.

Propelled by the concept of “inclusive market-oriented development,” the new strategy will help the dryland poor to grow their way out of poverty through better access to markets and other support services. Likewise, it envisions more stability, security and productivity, allowing the dryland poor to escape the poverty trap for good.

Anchored on a vision of a “prosperous, food-secure and resilient dryland tropics,” the new strategy has four thrusts which are: resilient dryland systems, markets institutions and policies, dryland cereals and grain legumes.

With these thrusts, ICRISAT aims to help halve world hunger by generating and mobilizing cutting edge innovations to increase productivity and through science-based policy advice to stabilize food prices and availability.

Coming out with an “Arusha Declaration,” ICRISAT’s Governing Board expressed confidence in this new strategy, which challenges the widespread pessimistic belief that  the drylands of the developing countries will constantly depend on external aid for economic  growth.

Crafting the declaration, Dr Nigel Poole, Chair of the ICRISAT Governing Board said, “There are many examples of how ICRISAT with its partners in the public and private sector, have vastly improved people’s lives  and how its new strategy will enable them to have many more.”

Recognizing the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the dryland poor, ICRISAT Director General William Dar said that “the new research strategy will enable them to multiply their farm productivity and substantially increase their incomes while improving  the resilience of their lands and livelihoods.”

To pursue this pathway to prosperity, “we will employ a systems perspective in setting our priorities to ensure that all important issues along the dryland agriculture value chain are addressed,” Dr Dar added. A systems perspective adopts a holistic view, considering the interaction of all components in a farming system with smallholder farmers at the center. 

In moving this forward, ICRISAT and its partners  will design and implement inclusive research programs  to benefit farmers, the women and children who depend on them, as well as other disadvantaged groups such as the landless, marginalized ethnic communities, unemployed youth and the elderly.


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