Research for development

Accelerated Crop Improvement

Enabling Systems Transformation

Resilient Farm and Food Systems


Eastern & Southern Africa

West & Central Africa

CGIAR Research Program

Dr Sean Mayes

Research Program Director – Accelerated Crop Improvement


This Global Program aims at enhancing diversity, productivity, production, nutrition quality and profitability of grain legumes and cereals in the SAT regions of the world using modern germplasm conservation and improvement approaches.

This program aims to develop climate resilient, high-yielding and better nutrition crop varieties with broader genetic base and to facilitate access to seeds of these improved varieties to smallholder farmers through formal and informal systems. To achieve this, the program shall use germplasm conserved in the ICRISAT genebank and multi-disciplinary approaches of crop improvement through seven targeted outputs.

Output Targets

  • Conservation and utilization of the biodiversity of ICRISAT’s mandate crops for current and future generations
  • Understand genome architecture, development and deployment of genomic/bioinformatics resources and tools for pre-breeding and modernization of crop improvement
  • Enable accelerated delivery of technologies and cutting-edge innovations in biotechnology for future traits
  • System analysis and phenomics to accelerate the development of crop products with enhanced environmental fitness, nutrition and marketability that raise the adoption of crops products by target smallholder farming communities and enhance their economic well-being and health
  • Biotic stress resistance and management options that raise the productivity of mandate crops under smallholder farming systems
  • Information on nutritional research in genomics, breeding and agronomy together with improved nutrition-rich germplasm made available to farmers
  • Delivering high-yielding, climate resilient, nutrition dense and market-preferred varieties and hybrids
  • Sustainable and timely access to quality seed of high-yielding market-informed varieties of drought-tolerant and nutritious crops at affordable prices
  • Women and youth engagement with advanced technologies


  • Better varietal development decisions based on the need of the targeted regions and value chain drivers integrated into the breeding programs
  • Demand-driven traits of future varieties made available to farmers in Asia, ESA and WCA; increased yield of pigeonpea, chickpea, groundnut, sorghum, pearl millet and finger millet harvested by farmers
  • Climate change effect on diseases-insects better predicted, durable resistance sources identified from germplasm to use in the crop improvement programs and better integrated pest management practices available with the community, including breeders and farmers
  • Modernized breeding programs with the ability to deliver higher genetic gains
  • Strengthened formal and informal seed systems for cereals and legumes in dryland areas with different stakeholders connected on a digital platform ensures timely access of quality seed to farmers
  • Increased income, nutrition and resilience
  • Reduced rural poverty
  • Strengthened capacity of partners and stakeholders


  • Modernized crop improvement delivers high-yielding, abiotic and biotic stress-tolerant and better nutrition varieties to benefit smallholder farmers in SSA and Asia
  • High-yielding, market-preferred and adaptable crop varieties contribute to higher income, deliver better nutrition and improve the well-being of smallholder farmers in SSA and Asia
  • Significantly improved dietary quality of the poor in the SAT and beyond who cannot afford high-end processed foods or animal-based protein products; contributing to improved human health and reduced carbon footprint; alleviation of malnutrition, especially among women and children in SSA and Asia and flourishing of small-scale village-based food processing enterprises.


Dr Wricha Tyagi

Cluster Leader – Cell & Molecular Biology and Trait Engineering

The Cell and Molecular Biology and Trait Engineering cluster undertakes co-development of parental breeding lines through biotechnology (genetic engineering) and/or gene-editing approaches using knowledge harnessed by integrating fundamental plant biology tools to uncover the candidate gene and mechanisms responsible for key ‘must-have and ‘game-changing traits based on demand-driven-target product profiles (TPPs) of ICRISAT focus crops. Advanced gene editing and associated enabling technologies for native trait engineering are being developed to advance precision genetic innovations that will feed the breeding pipelines in a stage-gate manner to improve elite varieties for production constraints for both regional and global traits considering regulatory environments, consumer acceptance, and impacts.

Focus areas:

  • Establishment of biotechnological tools towards targeted breeding for game-changing/future traits in grain legumes and dryland cereals.
  • Enabling tools and platform technologies for precision genetic and genome engineering technologies established for achieving novel trait enhancement pipelines for focus crops.
  • Developing and utilization of reverse and forward genetics tools for trait prospecting and discovery research for novel trait enhancement pipelines
  • Integrating fundamental plant sciences with systems biology tools to uncover the candidate gene and mechanisms responsible for complex traits / process regulation based on crop product profile needs
  • Functional validation of candidate genes emerging out from trait discovery pipelines in biological systems for linking gene (s) to phenotype(s)
  • Integrating/addressing emerging ethical, legal and societal issues related to agricultural biotechnology (GMO and Gene editing technologies) solutions for agriculture.

Partners: (National, International, Private Sector)

Indian Research Organizations: Indian Institute of Pulses Research (ICAR), Kanpur; Indian Institute for Millet Research (ICAR); National Research Center for Groundnut (ICAR), Junagadh; Department of Botany, Osmania University, Hyderabad; National Agri-food Biotechnology Institute (NABI), Mohali; International Centre for Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology, New Delhi.

Global Advanced Research Institutes and Universities: Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, USA; Japan International Research Centre for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS), Tsukuba, Japan; Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya; Centre for Crop Science, QAAFI, The University of Queensland, Australia; University of California, Davis, USA; Nara Institute of Science and Technology, Japan; VIB – Ghent University, Belgium; Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Plant Stress and Germplasm Development Unit, Lubbock, USDA-ARS; Southern Regional Research Center (SRRC), New Orleans, USDA-ARS; Michigan State University, USA; Noble Foundation, Oklahoma, USA

Private sector: Corteva Agriscience, USA; Biotech Consortium of India Ltd.; BioSeed Research India Private Limited, Hyderabad; SeedWorks India Pvt. Ltd; Tierra Agrotech Private Limited, Hyderabad.

Dr Janila Pasupuleti

Cluster Leader – Crop Breeding

Dr Jana Kholova

Cluster Leader – Crop Physiology and Modelling
Senior Scientist

Dr Rajan Sharma

Cluster Leader – Crop Protection & Seed Health
Principal Scientist


The overall goal of the Crop Protection and Seed Health cluster is to develop cost-effective and eco-friendly technologies for disease and pest management by engaging in basic, strategic and applied research in the areas of etiology, biology, epidemiology and management of major diseases and insect pests, and to ensure conservation and distribution of healthy germplasm. Identification of stable sources of disease resistance and insect pest tolerance and their integration into breeding programs is the overarching goal.

Characterization of plant pathogens, early detection and surveillance of emerging insect pests and diseases, microbial imprinting, development of diagnostic protocols and salvaging of infected seed are key activities of this cluster. Its state-of-the-art climate change facilities for crop protection address the impacts of climate variability on pest and diseases as a key for preparedness in managing emerging pest and diseases.

Focus areas:

  • Identify stable resistance sources for major diseases and insect pests, and study mechanisms underlying resistance/tolerance to insect pests and diseases
  • Develop innovative tools for early detection and diagnosis, surveillance of emerging insect pests and diseases, and estimation of crop losses under climate change scenario
  • Characterize plant pathogens and insect pests
  • Identify natural enemies of insect pests and biocontrol agents, and develop Integrated pest/disease management modules for dryland cereals and grain legumes for the target cropping systems
  • Study effects of climate variability on host x pathogen/insect-pest interactions, and develop weather-based prediction models for the timely management of diseases/insect-pests
  • Mapping, characterization, and evaluation of rhizoplane, rhizospheric and nodule-associated bacteria for nitrogen fixation, growth promotion and biofortification traits
  • Improve mycotoxin diagnostics and establish pre- and post-harvest interventions to mitigate aflatoxin contamination along the crop value chains
  • Conduct seed health testing for export/import and conservation of healthy germplasm in the ICRISAT Genebank
  • Develop diagnostic protocols and salvaging techniques for infested/infected germplasm
  • Organize training programs/workshops on mycotoxin diagnostics, early detection and diagnosis, mass rearing/culturing of insect pests and pathogens, phenotyping for pest/disease resistance, pest and disease forecasting models and seed health testing


  • Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), Bangladesh
  • CARE international
  • CAT (Centre for Agriculture Transformation), Malawi
  • Catholic Relief Services (CRS)
  • Department of Agriculture Research Services (DARS), Malawi
  • Department of Agriculture, Govt. of Odisha, India
  • Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), Ethiopia
  • ICAR-AICRP on Pearl Millet
  • ICAR-Indian Institute of Millets Research (IIMR), Hyderabad, India
  • ICAR-Indian Institute of Pulses Research (IIPR), Kanpur.
  • ICAR–National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources, India
  • IIAM (Mozambique)
  • Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi, India
  • Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad, India
  • KALRO (Kenya)
  • Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Malawi
  • NaSARRI (Uganda)
  • National Institute of Plant Health Management, Hyderabad, India
  • North Carolina State University, USA
  • NSF Centre for Integrated Pest Management (CIPM), North Carolina, USA
  • Pheromone chemicals India Ltd, Hyderabad
  • Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University, Hyderabad, India
  • South Asian Biotechnology Centre, New Delhi, India
  • State Agriculture Universities
  • Texas Tech University (TTU), Lubbock, Texas, USA
  • University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
  • University of Agricultural Sciences, Raichur, Karnataka, India
  • University of Agriculture and Horticulture Sciences, (UAHS), Shivamogga, Karnataka, India
  • University of California, Davis, USA
  • University of Georgia, Athens, USA
  • University of Liège, Belgium
  • University of Mysore, Karnataka, India
  • University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland
  • University of Zambia
  • Wageningen University & Research, Netherlands
  • Washington State University (WSU), Pullman, Washington
  • World Vision
  • Zambia Agriculture Research Institute
  • Private sector partners in India (Corteva, Ganga Kaveri Seeds, Hytech Seed India Pvt Ltd, Bayer Bioscience, Nandi Seeds, Momentive, UPL, FMC, Metahelix Life Sciences Ltd, Rasi Seeds, Rallis India Limited)

Dr Kuldeep Singh

Genebank Head Consultant

The Genebank serves as a repository for the collection of germplasm of ICRISAT’s six mandate crops: sorghumpearl milletfinger milletchickpeapigeonpea and groundnut; and five small millets: foxtail millet, little millet, kodo millet, proso millet and barnyard millet. The integrated Genebank at Patancheru (India) and three regional locations in Nairobi (Kenya), Bulawayo (Zimbabwe) and Niamey (Niger), function under the international framework for conservation of plant genetic resources.  The ICRISAT Genebank, in coordination with the Crop Trust, provides support to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and maintains and develops Genesys, a global online portal for data on genebank accessions.

ICRISAT Grin-Global is available at

ICRISAT Genebank:

Focus areas

  • Assembling and collecting germplasm: New accessions are fully integrated into the collection to fill gaps in the genepool
  • Conserving germplasm under long-term (LTS) and medium term storage (MTS) and monitoring the viability of conserved germplasm
  • Safety duplication of viable accessions at another genebank (first level) and at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (second level).
  • Regeneration and multiplication of germplasm: Growing out and regeneration of accessions that have declined in viability or seed quantity
  • Supply of germplasm and associated information
  • Repatriation of native germplasm to NARS partners who have lost their collections.
  • Characterization (phenotypic and genotypic) of germplasm and diversity assessment.
  • Evaluation of germplasm (including wild relatives) for traits of economic importance (biotic and abiotic stresses, agronomic, seed and nutritional traits)
  • Seed health testing and cleaning of new and regenerated germplasm accessions for conservation and exchange
  • Strategies for enhanced use of germplasm in crop improvement programs: Establishing and augmenting core and mini core collections and identify trait specific germplasm and conduct inheritance studies.
  • Maintaining, improving and expanding datasets and promoting their use through GRIN-Global and Genesys
  • Developing partnerships and enhancing the capacity of NARS partners in managing germplasm collections
  • Establishing and updating Quality and Risk Management Systems, genebanks operation manuals and staff retention plan.
  • Reporting on SMTAs to the Governing Body of the Treaty and to the FAO on Conservation and sustainable use of PGRFA Article 15 of the Global Plan of Action (GPA)
  • Strengthening regional genebanks in Africa for the efficient management of regional diversity and representative global diversity for enhanced germplasm use in the region
  • Regional genebanks collect, conserve, characterize/evaluate, regenerate, distribute germplasm and associated information, and enhance capacities of NARS partners in the region to manage diversity.

Dr Damaris Odeny

Cluster Leader – Genomics, pre-breeding & Bioinformatics
Principal Scientist

Dr Rajan Sharma


Seed is the vehicle that carries the improved genetics to farmers and other end users. The Seed Systems Research Cluster aims to address several constraints to adoption of quality seed of improved varieties of dryland crops by enabling the establishment of a robust system that (i) increases the quantity and quality of performance data substantiating varietal superiority; (ii) boosts the availability of early generation seed (EGS) by strengthening the technical and business acumen of the public EGS systems through technical, management and business capacity building; (iii) establishes a clear path and handover process from the variety development through product placement and seed systems; and (iv) enables private sector multipliers to seize opportunities to capitalize on the commercialization of these crops.

Focus areas:

  • Market-informed gender-responsive product profiles defined and refined with data from multi-location trials, target population environments, demand foresight, and customer profiles
  • Robust performance, production, commercialization and marketing data availed
  • Innovative technology scaling models to create awareness and generate demand for quality seed
  • Innovative models of EGS (breeder and foundation) and certified/quality declared seed (QDS) production tested through demand-led public and private partnerships.
  • Technical and business capacity of public and private seed enterprises strengthened for profitable targeting of seed production and supply
  • Policy solutions to facilitate varietal handover for commercialization initiated
  • Women and youth-friendly seed business models developed
  • Digital tools for seed systems developed
  • Linkages with seed quality control/assurance agencies strengthened
  • Technical guidelines for Seed Quality Assurance and Certification Systems that promote gender responsive and sustainable quality seed availability and access at realistic prices developed


  • National Agricultural Research Institutes in the Semi-Arid Tropics of Africa and Asia
  • Private sector seed companies (global)
  • Small and medium seed enterprises
  • Farmer seed producer groups, cooperatives and cooperative unions
  • Women collectives and self-help groups
  • National seed enterprises and parastatals
  • Ministries of agriculture and Farmers Welfare; Ministry of Animal Husbandry
  • Off-takers including grain-traders, exporters and processors
  • Higher learning institutions
  • NGOs and INGOs
  • Seed certification agencies
  • Sub-regional organizations such as CCARDESA, ASARECA, CORAF, APAARI, SAARC
  • Africa Union Commission through the African Seed and Biotechnology Partnership Program
  • African Seed Trade Association and Other National Seed Trade Associations
  • Seed Quality Control Laboratories and Seed Testing Associations such as ISTA
  • United Nations Organizations such as FAO and WFP
  • CGIAR Centers such as IITA, CIAT, ICARDA, ILRI, CIMMYT, IFPRI etc.
  • National Seed Corporation, State Seed Corporations in India
  • National Seed Association of India, Asia-Pacific Seed Association
  • Seedsmen Association

Dr Victor Afari-sefa

Research Program Director – Enabling Systems Transformation

A robust, systemic and transformative approach towards improving the livelihood of farmers is needed, helping them move from subsistence farming to profitable livelihoods by linking agriculture, nutrition and markets, with equitable access and benefit sharing for all.

This program aims to provide empirical evidence and information for developing sustainable markets, policies, and regulations to create enabling conditions for the transformation from subsistence-oriented to market-oriented sustainable dryland agriculture. The program also focuses on relevant policies that support the scaling of sustainable land management and water-efficient farm management practices and landscapes. It additionally examines policies that promote the production and consumption of ICRISAT’s mandate crops contributing to affordable and sustainable diets and livelihoods. This program helps generate steps towards political and institutional reforms by analyzing existing policies and experimenting with incentive systems.

Output Targets

  • Improved targeting and prioritization of plot, farm and food system interventions offered (e.g., recommendations for the reform of policies and strategies to increase the proportion of mandate crops in private and public food aid, mitigating food system fragilities through social protection and public procurement, etc.)
  • Enhanced efficacy of change management tools for transforming farm and landscapes developed (e.g., experimental investigations into monetary, cultural, social stimuli and incentive systems for adopting technologies and consumer behavior change).
  • Strengthened markets and market linkages developed for drylands crops (analysis of agricultural and trade policies and market institutions that promote or hinder the scaling of mandate crops, specifically drought-resilient crops, sustainable dryland farming technologies, etc.).
  • Demonstrated value chain model benefitting farmers through participation in the value chain (e.g., increased income of farmers through aggregation in groups, community level models created on entrepreneurship and linkages to community nutrition).
  • Strategies for accelerated and coordinated policy reforms, enabling environment developed, tested and implemented (e.g., impact of policy changes on youth employment, and evidence for policymakers to understand the return on investment, which improves targeting and public and private investments).
  • Engaging rural women and youth in local entrepreneurial opportunities in agricultural and allied sectors.
  • Introducing new processed food products of millets and legumes to enhance the nutritional status of rural populations, developing and promoting Smart food for farmers and consumers together with the public and private sector stakeholders.
  • Enhanced climate resilience.
  • Increased access to quality seed and high-yielding, nutrient-dense and market-preferred varieties
  • Enhanced system resilience.


We expect a significant change in behavior from farmers and consumers by implementing reforms in policies and current market institutions. Some will have direct effects on income, resilience and nutrition. Farmers’ engagement in business operations emerges and demonstrates models that are scalable and replicable. Other reforms are intended to strengthen capacity, motivate and fortify the processing industry (both SMEs and large scale) and other key players in the value chain to switch to the mandate crops. Overall, we expect better functioning value chains for ICRISAT’s mandate crops resulting from policy reforms. We anticipate that the demand for crops improved by ICRISAT researchers will increase through more impactful incentive systems. Consequently, the coverage of these crops will also increase in Africa and Asia. The program will contribute to better varietal development decisions in future, development of market-preferred varieties, strengthened formal and informal seed systems and bolstered capacity of different stakeholders. Program developed decision support tools and approaches are expected to promote climate smart agricultural policies and investments and Smart food. This program shall also assess the potential demand of ICRISAT mandate crops in non-traditional areas (beyond SAT) and can provide what would be the conditions for increasing the demand in non-traditional areas and also identify the emerging new areas beyond for production of ICRISAT crops beyond SAT.


We expect a significant increase in environmental health through policy-induced changes in human behavior regarding mandate crops, particularly by scaling legumes as intercrops and crop rotations, contributing to enhanced systems resilience. Better access to market will increase farmers income and reduce poverty. Better reach to market will also improve nutritional security. Increased production of legumes will improve eco-system services. Economic development is anticipated through the strengthening of value chains and the development of micro-enterprises in rural areas. As a result of dietary changes, an improvement in human health, particularly of poor farmers and consumers, including men, women and youth living in precarious conditions is expected for different stakeholders. Climate smart investments and incentives are expected to enhance the resilience of value chains and food systems in SAT regions.

Selvaraj Aravazhi

Cluster Leader – Agri Business Innovation Platform
Chief Operating Officer

AIP is a unique concept of ICRISAT that leverages partnerships, nutrition management, and business incubation to link ICRISAT research outcomes with a range of stakeholders in the agriculture ecosystem. This is aimed at benefiting smallholder farmers, youth and women in the rural community, and contributes towards local economic development.

The engagement models with the stakeholders involve working with agtech start-ups, agri/food-business Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs), industries, and government agencies in deploying sustainable interventions along the agricultural value chain. These interventions have enabled avenues for assimilation of technologies, learning opportunities, and co-development of novel solutions to tackle problems faced by smallholder farmers and rural communities.

AIP contributes towards the Science of discovery to the science of delivery motto of ICRISAT through its programs that offer an enabling ecosystem for smallholder farmers and rural communities to actively engage with the market, facilitate extensive linkages with various stakeholders in the value chain for knowledge and technology transfer, and provides a feedback loop to improve the tools, technologies, processes, and research.

Dryland agriculture continues to face several challenges ranging from low agricultural productivity and climate change issues to limited resources, lack of access to markets, and opportunities for off-farm economic development. The problems are more amplified due to poverty and rampant malnutrition that continues to affect multiple generations. The shift in ICRISAT agricultural research strategy towards ensuring concerted efforts are made to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG2) marks a very important strategic change, and in devising new ways to address these stated problems in the drylands.

AIP began in 2003 with the establishment of the first agribusiness-focused incubator in India. Over the years, other programs were initiated to complement the research activities of ICRISAT by working towards translating research into actionable agribusiness models and value-chain development interventions in the dryland tropics. AIP is one of ICRISAT’s main scaling instrument working through the following programs:

Agri-Business Incubator (ABI): Nurturing agtech start-ups in developing technology-led innovative solutions to address dryland agricultural challenges

Innovation and Partnerships (INP): Developing collaborative research partnerships with public, private, and allied sectors to benefit smallholder farmers across agricultural and agribusiness value chain

NutriPlus Knowledge (NPK): Value addition, post-harvest management, nutritional and food safety awareness in agri‑food sector through innovative processing, product/technology development and capacity building

Intellectual Property Facilitation Cell (IPFC): Single window for intellectual property protection, advisory, and technology transfer services for SMEs, and to help strengthen their competitiveness

Objectives of AIP-ICRISAT

  • To identify and promote grassroots agri-innovations and support agri-entrepreneurs to establish sustainable agri-enterprises.
  • To serve as a platform for agro-technology exchange from ICRISAT and its partners to the private/public sector.
  • To facilitate socio-economic development, especially promoting new agri-based livelihood opportunities for women and youth.
  • To act as a catalyst for Inclusive Market-Oriented Development by linking smallholder farmers to different stakeholders across the agricultural value chains and promoting value addition to farm produce.

Key activities:

  • Support the growth of agtech/food start-ups and agribusiness operating across the agricultural value-chain through agribusiness/agri-biotechnology incubation that can contribute towards the development of entrepreneurial and self-employment opportunities to local women and youth.
  • Provide start-ups with incubation services such as scientific, technology transfer, mentoring, technical and infrastructure support, networking, farmers and market linkages, and fund facilitation.
  • Development, sustainability and market linkages of Farmer Producer Organizations and self-help groups through establishment of primary and secondary processing facilities and functional value chains.
  • Creating demand pull for cereals and legumes through value addition to dryland cereals and grain legumes based on formulating and commercializing scientifically validated nutritious food products.
  • Support rural/tribal and disadvantaged populations in addressing malnutrition through establishment of sustainable local food processing enterprises and providing access to nutritious foods through food supply/value chain interventions and program management.
  • Facilitating intellectual property protection support and advisory services to start-ups, SMEs, and communities such as filing of patents, industrial designs, trademarks, copyrights and geographical indications etc., IP knowledge dissemination in the innovation communities, and legal documentation support to start-ups and innovators.
Cluster Foundational research partner (mostly advanced research institutes) Translational research partners (institutes translating basic knowledge to adaptive) Local Adaptive Research (KVKs, NGOs etc.) Scaling for Impact

(again KVKs, NGOs or any other)

Agribusiness Innovation Platform
  • Department of Consumer and Food Sciences, University of Pretoria.
  • Research Institute of Sweden (RISE), Sweden
  • Industrial Training Institute, Ministry of Technology, Sri Lanka
  • Central Food Technology Institute (CFTRI), India
  • Department of Agricultural Marketing & Agribusiness, Government of Tamil Nadu, India
  • Telangana State Scheduled Tribes Cooperative Finance Corporation Ltd. (TROCOR), Govt of Telangana, India
  • Department of Tribal Welfare, Govt of Telangana, India
  • Tribal Development Agency (ITDA, Telangana, India
  • PJT State Agricultural University, Telangana, India
  • Indian Institute of Millets research (IIMR-ICAR), Hyderabad, India
NIRMAN Organization, India (NGO)
  • Walmart Foundation
  • Accion Fraterna Ecology Center, Ananthapur, India
  • Samunnati Financial Intermediation & Services Private Limited, India
  • Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), Ghana
  • AGNii- Invest India
  • National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), India
  • Dr. Reddy’s Foundation, Hyderabad, India
  • Technology and Innovation Support Center (TISC) by World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)


Dr R Padmaja

Cluster Leader – Gender and Youth
Senior Scientist

The Gender and Youth Cluster is an integral part of the Enabling Systems Transformation Research Program, positioned to strengthen the sustainable transformation of lives and livelihoods of the vulnerable in the dryland tropics of Asia and Africa through integrated systems and gender-focused research for development. GYC serves as a cross-cutting cluster both within the Research Program and across all programs and regions to enable gender-responsive approaches and outcomes. The Gender and Youth Cluster seeks to develop the agency and capacity of women and youth along the agri-food value chain in the drylands whilst narrowing gender inequities in accessing production resources that are central to rural livelihoods, food, and nutrition security.

The approach of the cluster is three-fold:

  • Understanding norms and structures for transformation
  • A focus on empowerment through increased agency and capacity
  • Applying an intersectional lens to its research for development outcomes

Focus areas:

  • Gender analysis and gender-informed outcomes: Develop and employ gender-social-analytical tools to unravel gender nuances and facilitate gender-guided outcomes that inform the identification and reaching of target beneficiaries, and monitoring and assessment of outcome and impacts of ICRISAT’s research for development activities and programs
  • Co-design, co-create and test context-specific interventions (technology, knowledge, social) for empowering women and youth and achieving gender equality in the drylands
  • Identify/test pathways that ensure sustainable transformation of food systems from a gender equity, gender equality, and intersectional perspectives
  • Promote inclusive models to integrate women and youth in agriculture
  • Develop Gender and Youth intervention strategies that accelerate food system transformations, gender equity, job creation, and social inclusion

Dr R Padmaja

Cluster Leader – Knowledge and Capacity Development
Senior Scientist – Gender Research

The cluster will support the mission of ICRISAT by facilitating processes to strengthen diverse capacities of diverse (groups of) actors in the agri-food system to enable them to transform systems towards substantially reducing poverty, hunger, malnutrition and environmental degradation in the dryland tropics. The goals will be to improve system understanding, and to co-identify leverage points where moderate capacity development interventions will bring about large changes in the system. Improved system and actor understanding will provide the basis for co-designing of strategies for improving knowledge and strengthening capacities to navigate through complexity, collaborate, reflect and learn, and engage in policy processes with the intention to change individual behavior eventually leading to transformative system changes.

Focus areas:

The operationalization of this intention will require collaboration at different levels. The cluster will unfold its potential mainly through an integration into large projects across ICRISAT’s programs and regions. It follows an innovation system approach and facilitates, supports reflection, and assesses the impact of capacity development interventions across the institute. More specifically, this cluster:

  • Supports system analyses in collaboration with all clusters of EST;
  • Facilitates the identification of strategic capacity development needs;
  • Facilitates the development of complementary capacity development interventions for achieving impact at scale;
  • Supports co-designing of innovative capacity development instruments;
  • Facilitates learning and reflection related to strategic capacity development;
  • Offers strategic visitor services;
  • Supports assessment of capacity development interventions.


  • Diverse national and international civil society partners
  • Diverse government partners
  • Diverse university partners across the globe
  • National agricultural research for development partners
  • UN organizations
  • GIZ

Dr Shalander Kumar

Cluster Leader – Socioeconomist – Markets, Institutions and Policies
Principal Scientist

Markets, Institutions and Policies research cluster undertakes theory-informed and action-oriented research supporting markets, policies and institutional innovations to promote nutrition-sensitive, inclusive and resilient farm and food systems in drylands. This cluster provides evidence-based strategies to support the development of market-led innovations, reshape markets and value chains and facilitate agri-business innovations to enable the supply of healthy food from producers to consumers and create more jobs along the value chains. This research contributes to a conducive policy environment for the adoption of technological, social, and institutional innovations that help poor farmers, both men and women, improve their lives, produce nutritious and affordable foods, and protect the soil, water, and biodiversity in rural landscapes. Markets, Institutions and Policies cluster works closely with other research teams for demand-driven product development and creating enabling policy environment for innovations adoption.

Focus areas: 

  • Food value chain analysis (supply, demand, markets, pricing) to identify
    • Critical linkages among agriculture, poverty reduction, improved nutrition food security, gender outcomes, and sustainability
    • Barriers that prevent consumption and market offtake of nutritious commodities by people in the semi-arid tropics
    • Market drivers for demand-driven product/cultivars development
    • Entry points for improving access and attractiveness of dryland nutritious crops
    • (Upgrade) strategies particularly for marginalized and vulnerable value chain actors (small-scale farmers, women, youth) and small and medium enterprises.
    • Resilience enhancing nutrition-sensitive interventions to build a sustainable farm and food systems in dryland regions
  • Market and value chain development for dryland commodities along the rural and urban continuum through promoting appropriate policy and institutional options improving opportunities for farmers’ groups, (social) businesses, value addition, value chain efficiency and demand creation.
  • Longitudinal studies, tools and frameworks for policy makers and value chain actors and communities to support resilience across agricultural value chains, governance of common pool resources and guiding transitions to sustainable farm and food systems.
  • Create policy evidences to enhance uptake of regenerating and climate-smart technologies, increased integration of nutritious dryland crops into diets and sustainable natural resource management.
  • Political economy analysis of crop improvement, seed systems, effects of food system policy changes on demand for dryland cereals and legumes informing and contributing to a more conducive policy environment


  • The Alliance for Food and Climate Systems Transformation- J-WAFS, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA
  • Tufts University, Massachusetts
  • Wageningen University & Research (WUR)
  • The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia
  • Michigan State University
  • Arizona State University
  • ICAR-National Institute for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research
  • ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute
  • ICAR-Indian Institute of Millets Research
  • ICAR-Central Institute for Research on Dryland Agriculture, Hyderabad
  • ICAR- Indian Institute of Farming Systems Research
  • Bureau d’analyse Macro-économique (BAME), Senegal
  • J-PAL South Asia
  • Center for Economic and Social Studies, Hyderabad
  • Dabur India Limited
  • Atal Innovation Mission, Government of India
  • Foundation for Ecological Sustainability
  • Government of Telangana
  • SAUs, and Krishi Vigyan Kendras of ICAR, India
  • EPTRI, Govt of Telangana
  • Catholic Relief Service (CRS)
  • World Food Program (WFP)
  • A number of NARES and CGIAR centers

Saikat Datta Mazumdar

Cluster Leader Nutrition, Dietary Behavior and Smart Food
Chief Operating Officer NutriPlus Knowledge (NPK) Program Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP)
Principal Scientist

In line with ICRISAT’s nutrition strategy and in tandem with the sustainable development goals, various countries’ agri-nutrition policies, the Nutrition, Dietary Behavior and Smart Food cluster aims to generate evidence that contributes towards improved healthy diets and sustainably production to enable food systems transformation within the drylands. This is through innovative methods that integrate social science disciplines to characterize consumer diets, their nutrition status and their behavior. The cluster also aims to develop and promote demand-driven interventions and mechanisms in support of farming systems diversification, fair agri-food value chains and evidence-based policy and regulatory action. In addition, socially inclusive approaches are utilized, ensuring gender, equity and empowerment as integral parts. The cluster oversees and mentors ICRISAT’s Smart Food Campaign (

Focus areas:

The focus areas of the cluster are guided by a food systems approach where we assess, co-design and pilot interventions in the following areas:

  • Food supply chains, particularly focusing on agricultural production systems, and the role of diets in influencing healthier and more sustainable production, post-harvest and processing methods. Research in this area is cognizant of dietary transitions in the drylands and the rural-urban nuances that may influence dietary choices.
  • Food environments – This focuses on the socio-cultural, institutional, built and natural environment to improve especially the aspects of food availability, accessibility, affordability, usage and food safety.
  • Consumer behavior – Research in this area focuses on what, when and why consumers choose particular foods and how such food choices can be influenced towards a positive direction.
  • The assessment of diets – Quantity, frequency, quality and safety of food – and how these are associated with observed nutrition and health status outcomes.
  • Food, nutrition and agricultural policies research for development of evidence-based policy action to enable food systems transformation.


  • Wageningen University, The Netherlands
  • Ghent University, Belgium
  • University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna
  • Bahir Dar University, Ethiopia
  • College of Medicine, Malawi
  • Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania
  • Public Health Institute of Malawi
  • Columbia University, USA
  • Oregon State University, USA
  • University of Reading, UK
  • University of East Anglia, UK
  • National institute of Nutrition, India
  • Ministry of Women and Child Development, India
  • Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute, Tanzania

Mequanint Biset Melesse

Cluster Leader – Technology Adoption and Impact Analysis

This cluster aims to improve co-development, targeting and prioritization of agricultural research and food system interventions to enable systems transformations in the drylands of Africa and Asia. TIA develops analytical protocols, tools and methods and provides rigorous evidence that support evidence-based decision-making for impact analysis, anchoring and scaling at various integration levels. Moreover, TIA evaluates contributions of ICRISAT technological and social innovations to critical development outcomes. It also measures the cost-effectiveness and rates of returns on public investments in agricultural research and development. To this end, TIA research combines rigorous quantitative and qualitative systems analysis and impact approaches that integrate interdisciplinary research teams, based on well-articulated theories of change and impact pathways. A specific focus is on using insights from experimental and behavioral change theories to understand individual, household and institution-level decision-making to inform integration of the development of sustainable agricultural technologies, innovations, policies, and adoption at scale.

Focus areas:

  • Assessment of (dis)adoption and diffusion of agricultural technologies to understand underlying drivers and constraints, in order to develop more effective and contextualized dissemination and scaling strategies
  • Demand-led breeding and technology development through careful technology needs assessment, prioritization of preferred traits, market segmentation, and product profile development to improve technology acceptance
  • Strategic foresight and scenario analyses to inform system-level leverage points and research priorities to enable systems transformation in complex socio-ecological environments
  • Customize and use ex-ante analysis tools (system dynamics, agent-based bioeconomic modeling and prioritization tools) to assess the likely impacts of selected current and future innovations
  • Apply rigorous ex-post impact analysis methodologies to evaluate (both intended and unintended) impacts of projects, technologies, markets, social organization, and other development interventions
  • Methodological, tool and technological innovations in data science for cost-effective large-scale data collection and establishment of (panel) datasets to credibly assess medium- and long-term impacts of projects, technologies and other development interventions
  • Institutionalize multi-disciplinary community of practice (CoP) and capacity development for rigorous systems analysis and impact assessment within ICRISAT and serve as a role model and extend support for similar efforts of partners.


We collaborate and partner internally with several research programs and clusters, and externally with many international organizations, national research systems and institutes, universities, and leading experts, often tailoring our team and approaches to account for specific purposes and specific intended users.

Annex: Indicative list of partners

  • Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands
  • University of Bonn, Germany
  • University of Göttingen, Germany
  • CSIRO- Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Australia
  • The Standing Panel on Impact Assessment (SPIA), CGIAR.
  • Michigan State University, USA
  • University of California, Berkeley, USA
  • ICAR-National Institute of Agricultural Economics and Policy Research, New Delhi, India
  • J-PAL, South Asia
  • Centre for Economics and Social Studies (CESS), Hyderabad, India
  • 10 Swedish Agricultural University, Sweden
  • University of Florida, USA
  • University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
  • Oregon State University, USA
  • Columbia University, USA
  • Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), Kenya
  • Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), Ethiopia
  • Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI), Tanzania
  • National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO), Uganda
  • Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University (ANGRAU), Guntur
  • Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University (PJTSAU), Hyderabad, India
  • Gokhale Institute of political and Economics, Pune, India

Dr ML Jat

Research Program Director – Resilient Farm and Food Systems

With food demand driven by rising incomes in Asia and rapid population growth in sub-Saharan Africa, food deficits are predicted to expand ( Such deficits, which are being met increasingly by imports, can also be filled through sustainable intensification, with recent research showing that targeted investments in agricultural land and water management and associated policy interventions can double or triple crop yields.

Using a landscape and community framing allows broader opportunities for creating livelihood systems. Such an approach then takes the focus beyond the farm level to developing innovative and collective approaches to managing landscapes for restoration, aggregating primary products for more effective marketing, employing digital means to exchange information and creating opportunities for agri-entrepreneurs, etc.

The focus of this Global Research Program is therefore on rainfed crop and crop-livestock-agroforestry systems and smallholder irrigated systems.

Output Targets

At the farm scale to close yield gaps:

  • The implementation of agricultural land and water management strategies and livelihood options – sustainable intensification strategies coupled with multi-stakeholder innovation platform processes that link productivity improvement to wider impacts.
  • Testing and scaling of improved and resilient farming systems (including integration and intensification of crops and livestock-agroforestry systems) and rotations that support diversification, risk management, income generation, resource conservation and sustainability.
  • The use of climate information services coupled with ICT to enable delivery systems to scale decision support information and de-risk farm management.
  • Mechanization and digital innovations to reduce drudgery, such as introducing mechanization in primary operations (land preparation, sowing, weeding, fertilizer application and harvesting) and processing (threshing, chopping, dehulling).
  • Prediction of extreme weather events or pest and disease outbreaks linked to early warning systems and response advisories.

At the watershed scale to build collective action:

  • Scaling of agricultural landscape water management (ALWM) strategies that enable overall improvements in natural resources (e.g. hydrology, cover, erosion, etc.) and collective management (commons, catchments, groundwater extraction).
  • Science that supports the scaling of integrated watershed approaches that reaches policymakers, investors, donors and change agents.
  • Application of geospatial information in targeting interventions (prioritizing watersheds, designing and locating land engineering structures, site-specific nutrient management).
  • Development of scaling-up models for large-scale diffusion of proven agriculture smart technologies.

At the community scale:

  • Support social processes to collectively manage resources and create new innovations for marketing (especially digital solutions to aggregation and collective marketing)
  • Digital innovations that support community processes and knowledge exchange
  • Development of community-based watershed and farm decision support tools for improved soil, nutrient and water use efficiency and soil carbon sequestration.

Alignment with SDGs: No Poverty (1), Zero Hunger (2), Gender Equality (5), Climate Action (13), and Partnerships for the Goals (17).


  • New and upscaled technologies, sustainable natural resource management approaches and business models available to help rural communities enhance incomes and livelihoods and ensure sustainable resource use at the landscape level to build resilient farm and food systems in the drylands of Asia and SSA
  • Climate-smart innovations, approaches and scaling mechanisms including early warning systems are evidenced for their effectiveness (ecosystem services, economic benefits, etc.) in mitigating risks of climate variability and change
  • Increased rate of adoption and replicability of best management practices in landscape restoration
  • Enhanced efficiency of change management to transform farms and landscapes, rural women and youth engagement in local entrepreneurship, changed behavior of farmers and consumers, increased income, nutrition and resilience and reduced rural poverty.


  • Sustainable natural resource management from farm to landscape scale coupled with the adoption of context specific technologies and farming system diversification contribute to sustainable intensification, enhanced system resilience and food security and reduced land degradation in the drylands.
  • Increased adaptation to climate variability and change – reduced greenhouse gas emission
  • Improved groundwater availability, enhanced cropping intensity and resource use efficiency and transformation of fragile landscapes into resilient production systems
  • Improved nutrition of rural and urban populations through greater consumption of diversified food.
  • Farmers and traders benefit from greater competitiveness in markets, and rural youth and women find livelihoods as small- and medium-scale entrepreneurs.

Martin Philani Moyo

Cluster Leader – Climate Adaptation and Mitigation

The main goal of this cluster is to improve the climate resilience of semi-arid ecosystems, actors (male and female producers, extensionists, researchers, policy makers etc.) as well as of institutions in charge of climate change agenda, from local to regional and global levels. The cluster will encompass research on diagnosis of climatic risks for various agricultural sub-sectors, mapping, profiling and evidencing/climate-proofing of potential technologies and practices that are relevant to increase the climatic resilience of men, women, youth groups. The cluster will also test models and approaches of partnership engagement, capacitation and communication (e.g., science-policy interfacing) that can allow large-scaling of proven adaptation and mitigation options. The cluster also works on scaling climate-smart agriculture (CSA) practices and seeks to support risk management through enhanced prediction of climate impacts on agriculture, and enhanced climate information and services.

Focus areas:

  • Conducting research on weather and climate dynamics and their association with the performance of agricultural interventions to map climatic risks
  • Participatory identification and prioritization of adaptation and mitigation technologies and practices
  • Ground testing of potential climate-smart innovations, approaches, and scaling mechanisms
  • Piloting of partnership engagement and business models for sustainable scaling of climate-smart options
  • Developing methods to target farm and landscape interventions for managing weather and climate stress under uncertainty and also developing climate applications linked to digital agriculture that can bring decision support to farmers at scale.
  • Undertaking on-farm, on-station field based research that support the development, demonstration and scaling of climate smart agricultural interventions.
  • Facilitating linkages among farmers, government research and extension, NGOs, private sector, and the development of functioning innovation platforms to build upon national capacity and incorporate globally recognized innovations into climate service products in all agriculture interventions.
  • Coordinating and fostering synergies, interactions and communication with all key partners and stakeholders, to enable the delivery of climate services for agricultural and food security decision making, including smallholder farmers.
  • Documenting research and innovations, and advancing knowledge and publishing research on relevant communication and/or institutional aspects of climate services, in the context of existing climate services projects and sharing research findings at relevant platforms.
  • Supporting the development of M&E frameworks, tools & approaches to assess impact of climate services for farmers & providing oversight of evaluation activities on the ground.


  • Donor agencies: e.g., IFAD, FAO, World Bank, USAID, UNDP, WFP, ACIAR, EU, USAID, WELCOME TRUST, etc.
  • Development Agencies: e.g., CARE International, World Vision, Welthungerhilfe, Practical Action, IUCN, etc.
  • CGIAR Centers
  • Academic Institutions: e.g., University of Reading, Wageningen University, University of Australia, University of South Australia, WASCAL, etc.
  • Government Institutions: mainly Ministries of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, Environment, Rural Development, Local governance, Meteorological Services Departments, etc.
  • Private sector: e.g., ECONET Wireless, Esoko, myAgro, Mlouma, Jokalante, etc.

The overarching goal of the Digital Agriculture cluster is to conceptualize, prototype and research around the use of latest digital technologies in smallholder agriculture and also facilitate upscaling of proven technologies for achieving development impact. Digital agriculture can be a key vehicle for developing countries to leap frog and accelerate agriculture and rural transformation. From making better informed decision on farm, (e.g. time of sowing, soil, disease and pest diagnostics) to connecting smallholders to markets and enabling transactions, digital agriculture can potentially overcome some of the intractable problems.

Focus areas:

  • Answer how and what information and ICT might be delivered to create new services for smallholder farmers, value chains and communities;
  • Conduct leading-edge research on the technical and social dimensions of digital agriculture, specifically how and what information will lead to practice change, gaining of efficiencies and overall impacts on farm livelihoods.
  • Support ICRISAT’s efforts to build new partnerships for enhanced development impact using ICT platforms and tools, particularly through connections with leading private sector innovators.
  • Oversee the Institute’s role as a mediator in knowledge sharing and innovation through updated ICT tools, including the piloting of virtual educational, library and learning programs
  • Anchor the digital agriculture innovation ecosystem and minimize innovation system failures through incubation, mentoring, partnership facilitated by ihub.



  1. Kalgudi
  2. Verdentum
  3. Senseacre
  4. GPC GIS East Pvt Ltd
  5. FFEM
  6. OMDC
  7. Distinct Horizon
  8. XMachines
  9. Indev Consultancy
  10. Kuza
  11. Piatrica

Past incubatees

  1. Intello Labs
  2. Ahead Race
  3. Exabit Systems
  4. TITSC
  5. Keansa Solutions
  6. PALS Global

Ecosystem partners

  1. ThoughtFolks – Digital, Branding and BOT Partner
  2. Catalyze – Business Development and Proposal Writing Partner
  3. SourceTrace – Project Partner
  4. Gloqal Inc – Project Partner
  5. Geoclidian – Project Partner
  6. Agrifortis – Project Partner
  7. IdeaLabs – Incubation Partner
  8. SR Global – Digital Transformation Partner


Dr Murali Krishna Gumma

Cluster Leader – Geospatial and Big Data Sciences
Principal Scientist

The Geospatial and Big Data Sciences cluster uses cutting-edge scientific tools to deliver geospatial products and build big data platforms for generating evidence-based science deliverables. It supports research programs by integrating multiple disciplines of agriculture in the drylands.

Geospatial information about various disciplines of agriculture are generated using remote sensing, Global Positioning System (GPS) and Geographic Information System (GIS) at appropriate resolution and scale to address issues ranging from crop distribution to yield estimation, including identification of stresses. Water use, productivity enhancement, soil health management, agrobiodiversity conservation, climate variability are important areas supported by the cluster. Big data analytics are used to extract information from our long-term datasets generated from experiments and trials.


  • Develop a seamless data repository and access system at the institute level following a successful model/design for big data platforms
  • Deliver spatial products for research, planning and decision making using remote sensing and GIS.
  • Develop efficient methodologies using new data mining, Machine learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms to answer complex questions in agriculture production and climate change
  • Adopt new technologies and platforms for big data processing
  • Integrate spatial methods and new computing approaches to tackle geospatial big data challenges

Focus areas:

  • Trait characteristics of crop varieties using spectral libraries, genetic meta-information and breeding trials
  • Typology of crop production environments to identify factors causing yield gaps and address them
  • Identification of hotspots and endemic areas based on disease and pest dynamics in space and time, epidemiology and remote sensing imagery
  • Hyperspectral point (plot) data and imagery repository of spectral libraries of screened germplasm collection at ICRISAT genebank
  • IOT-based platforms and high-resolution remote sensing imagery to link proximal and remote sensing for field phenotyping
  • Acquisition of very high spatial and temporal resolution imagery with well calibrated sensors on industry standard UAVs is an ideal candidate for geospatial big data. Machine learning algorithms can bring out insights about spectral variability due to crop traits.
  • Crop stresses and biophysical parameters extraction using Hyperspectral image analysis and spectral matching techniques
  • Crop yield prediction using technology and different algorithms considering various parameters like weather, soil and crop management data
  • Retrieval of data from multiple sources e.g. satellite imagery and ground sensors for field-level monitoring
  • Tracking of changes in vegetation health during cloud-free days of the growing season based on vegetation indices (NDVI, EVI etc.)

Dr Ramesh Singh

Cluster Leader – ICRISAT Development Centre
Principal Scientist

The ICRISAT Development Center (IDC) recognizes the complex interactions among natural resources, crop production potential, ecological challenges and livelihoods of rural communities. In order to address these complexities, IDC promotes science-backed initiatives as a means to bring about perceptible change in communities. The basic principle of ‘From science of discovery to science of delivery’ is pursued to ensure large-scale application of science as the driver. IDC leads large-scale uptake of proven and scalable technologies to drive translational Research for Development (R4D) that integrates the technologies and products into a ‘basket of options’ while working with relevant partners and stakeholders for enabling better policies and institutional support required for achieving impact.


Adopting a systems approach to enable positive change, facilitate growth and foster sustainable development, IDC identifies and transforms proven technologies into system-wide solutions for scaling up and scaling out. The challenging science of scaling-up and scaling-out for development and impact needs the blending of new scientific tools with that of new technologies in water, land and crop management besides fostering community-based institutions. Further, it also identifies climate-smart production systems by applying social and institutional sciences, economics, and most importantly, behavioral science to study and apply the science of delivery.

Focus areas:

  • Rural transformation through sustainable natural resource management
  • Identification, validation and piloting of landscape resource management technologies
  • Integration of landscape restoration and farm-based technologies for building system resilience
  • Designing, implementing and scaling up of climate-smart agriculture initiatives aimed at building resilient production systems and communities
  • Knowledge dissemination through capacity and awareness building initiatives for scaling up best management practices


  • Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India
  • Banda University of Agriculture and Technology, Banda, Utter Pradesh
  • ICAR-IGFRI, Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh
  • ICAR-CAFRI, Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh
  • Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology, Bhubaneswar, Odisha
  • World Vegetable Centre, Hyderabad
  • Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
  • University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad, Karnataka
  • Government of Karnataka
  • JSW Foundation
  • BAIF Development Research Foundation
  • Heirloom Seedlings and Plants Pvt. Ltd.
  • Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM)
  • Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), Govt. of India
  • Government of India
  • REC Limited, Hyderabad, Telangana
  • Government of Telangana
  • Government of Andhra Pradesh
  • ABInBev, Bangalore, India
  • Power Grid Corporation of India Limited
  • Government of Maharashtra
  • Mahindra & Mahindra
  • UltraTech Cement
  • Trident Sugars Ltd
  • Odisha PVTG Empowerment and Livelihood Improvement Program (OPELIP), Govt. of Odisha
  • ST & SC Development Department, Government of Odisha
  • Government of Odisha
  • Odisha Livelihoods Mission (OLM), Bhubaneswar, Odisha

Cluster Leader – Landscapes, Soil Fertility and Water Management
Senior Scientist

The Landscapes, Soil Fertility and Water Management Cluster aims to improve the food and nutritional security of vulnerable households in the drylands and promote sustainable farm and landscape management practices in the region. The cluster deals with enhancing agricultural productivity and landscape-scale natural resource management through participatory planning, diagnosis and implementation of integrated watershed management practices, and by promoting the use of innovative farm-based and landscape-based agricultural practices that enhance sustainability and resilience.

Some of the cluster’s expected outputs are a) Learning sites established and co-used by multiple stakeholders for agricultural technology demonstration and scaling b) Increased adoption of validated technologies in different ecosystems which lead to increased household food supply, dietary diversity and market demand crops, and c) Participatory watershed management institutionalized through training, policy dialog and enabling policy frameworks.

State and national governments, NGOs, the donor community, NARES, national agricultural research institutes, farmer organizations and the private sector are the intended users of this cluster’s products.

Focus areas:

  • Studies that include watershed and socio-economic characterization (baseline and end-line).
  • Innovation platforms and identification of demand-driven practices and common property resources.
  • Farm-based agronomic operations (monocropping and intercropping, cereal legume rotations, etc.) and integrated soil fertility management practices (composting, microdosing, and nutrient cycling).
  • Natural resource management (NRM) practices: establishing hydraulic structures (water retention and aquifer recharging ponds), terraces, tied ridging with fast-growing tree species etc. and technologies that promote reduction of soil erosion and enhance soil water infiltration and recharging of ground aquifers.
  • Improved georeferencing technologies and landscape spatial identification and mapping of areas for technology uptake and scaling.
  • Use of digital agriculture, characterizing climate risk, pests and diseases and market linkages at different levels to identify market-oriented crops and product marketing.
  • Characterization of biophysical and socioeconomic models to study impacts at different scales and effects arising from NRM resource use and distribution.
  • Capacity building programs on validated technologies and practices, communications and outreach activities using farmers field schools, technology parks and local farm radios.
  • Identification of approaches to enable formulation of NRM policy dialogs and integration of best-bet practices into national policy frameworks and interventions.
  • Identification of mechanisms to engage farmers and farmer organizations in participatory agroecological management.
  • Gender activities related to landscapes, soil fertility and technology implementation and adoption.
  • Integration and co-working with the other clusters of ICRISAT’s Global Research Programs to achieve ICRISAT’s vision and mission in the drylands.

Partners (Partial):

  • Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research
  • Tanzanian Institute of Agricultural Research
  • Institut d’Economie Rurale (IER), Mali
  • LEAD Foundation, Tanzania
  • Association Malienne d’Eveil au Developpement Durable (AMEDD)
  • Cooperatives of the Mouvement Biologique du Mali (FENABE)
  • International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)
  • World Vegetable Center (WorldVeg)
  • Wageningen University and Research Centre (WUR)

Dr Arvind Kumar

Deputy Director-General – Research
Regional Program Director – Asia

As Regional Director of Asia, Dr Arvind Kumar ensures the efficient implementation of the Global Research Programs – Accelerated Crop Improvement, Resilient Farm and Food Systems, and Enabling Transformations – in Asia.

Based in Hyderabad, India, he is responsible for management of the ICRISAT Integrated Support Center – Asia.

He is in charge of mobilizing resources, developing innovative funding strategies, supporting project implementation, and developing new partnerships and strengthening current ones in Asia.

Dr Rebbie Harawa

Regional Director
Country Representative – Kenya

As Regional Director of East and Southern Africa (ESA), Dr Rebbie Harawa is responsible for the efficient implementation of the Global Research Programs – Accelerated Crop Improvement, Resilient Farm and Food Systems, and Enabling Transformations – in ESA region.

Based in Nairobi, Kenya, Dr Harawa is the Country Representative for Kenya and is in charge of management of the ICRISAT Integrated Support Center – ESA.

She is involved with mobilizing resources, developing innovative funding strategies, supporting project implementation and developing new partnerships and strengthening current ones in ESA region.

Dr Ramadjita Tabo

Regional Director
Country Representative – Mali

As Regional Director of West and Central Africa (WCA), Dr Ramadjita Tabo is responsible for the efficient implementation of the Global Research Programs – Accelerated Crop Improvement, Resilient Farm and Food Systems, and Enabling Transformations – in WCA region.

Based in Bamako, Mali, Dr Tabo is the Country Representative for Mali and also in charge of management of the ICRISAT Integrated Support Center – WCA.

He is involved with mobilizing resources, developing innovative funding strategies, supporting project implementation and developing new partnerships and strengthening current ones in WCA region.

CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals Agri-food Systems (2018-22)

The CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals Agri-food Systems (GLDC) focuses on increasing the productivity, profitability, resilience and marketability of critical and nutritious grain legume and cereal crops grown in Sub Saharan Africa and South Asia. It is aa Research for Development investment of US$413 million over five years (2018-22).

CRP-GLDC is one of 12 CRPs delivering to the CGIAR’s Strategy and Results Framework (SRF) 2016–2030. By 2030, CGIAR and its partners will aim for 150 million fewer hungry people, 100 million fewer poor people, at least 50% of whom are women, and 190 million ha less degraded land (

The CRP has prioritized integrated research for development on six legume (chickpea, cowpea, pigeonpea, groundnut, lentil, soybean) and three cereal (sorghum, pearl millet, finger millet) crops grown in semi-arid and sub-humid dryland agroecologies.
CRP-GLDC will be managed by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), supported by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and Bioversity International. These CGIAR partners will lead key programs of the CRP along with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), the French-Agriculture Research for Development (CIRAD), and Institute of Research for Development-France (IRD).

Broad partnerships are essential for CRP-GLDC and include the National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) collaborators in West Africa (Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger), East and Southern Africa (Ethiopia, Sudan, Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique), and South Asia (India and Myanmar), Sub-Regional Organizations, non-Government Organisations and private companies to increase regional adoption of improved crop varieties and enhance market opportunities for smallholder farmers.

GLDC Director: 


CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems

Focal point: Dr Anthony Whitbread
Email: A(dot)Whitbread(at)cgiar(dot)org

CGIAR Genebank Platform

Focal point: Dr Vania Azevedo
Email: v(dot)azevedo(at)cgiar(dot)org

CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)

Focal point: Dr Anthony Whitbread
Email: A(dot)Whitbread(at)cgiar(dot)org

CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH)

Focal point: Dr Michael Hauser
Email: M(dot)Hauser(at)cgiar(dot)org

CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM)

Focal point: Dr Michael Hauser
Email: M(dot)Hauser(at)cgiar(dot)org

CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture

Focal point: Dr Abhishek Rathore
Email: a(dot)rathore(at)cgiar(dot)org

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