19) ICRISAT launches a new strategy to help end poverty in the drylands

Poverty must be ended, not only alleviated. This is the goal of a strategy launched by the India-based International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) to finally shatter the pessimism towards the drylands of developing countries which are usually propped up by external aid for economic growth.

Anchored on the concept of “inclusive market-oriented development” (IMOD), the new strategy will help the dryland poor to grow their way out of poverty for good through agricultural innovations and better access to markets and other support services.

IMOD is the moving spirit of ICRISAT’s new strategic plan to 2020 which was launched during its 38th anniversary celebrations this week at Patancheru.

Unveiling the new strategy with Professor MS Swaminathan, ICRISAT Director General William Dar declared, “Our strategy draws poor dryland communities into the mainstream to reap the benefits of development.” 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.

Commenting on ICRISAT’s new strategy, Professor Swaminathan said, “By adopting a pro-nature, pro-poor, pro-women and pro-sustainable livelihood orientation to all the research and educational programmes, ICRISAT will become the flagship of a hunger-free world."

ICRISAT’s Governing Board commended the Institute in mapping out a new strategy. Dr Nigel Poole, Chair of the ICRISAT Governing Board said, “Testing times are ahead for smallholder farmers living in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. They need to tap into the benefits of our science. With your sharpened focus on ways to deal with the ever-expanding list of challenges they face, you have shown your firm commitment to the poor. “

IMOD is a dynamic progression from subsistence to market-oriented agriculture through the generation of surpluses
by farm communities by applying agricultural innovations. These surpluses provide food security to farm families and enable them to participate in markets to earn more income.

Lifting farm families beyond subsistence, increased income enables them buy inputs and other needs, kicking off a series of investments that bring about sustained economic growth. Being inclusive, IMOD puts everybody - men, women, the youth and children in the mainstream of development.

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

With these thrusts, ICRISAT and its partners aim to help halve global poverty, hunger and malnutrition and increase the resilience of dryland farming communities by 2020.


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