Motto Science with a Human Face
Formation 1972
Type Public
Location Patancheru, Hyderabad, India
Key people William Dar
Parent organization CGIAR
Website www.icrisat.org

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid-Tropics (ICRISAT) is a non-profit agricultural research organization headquartered in Patancheru (Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India) with several regional centres (Niamey (Niger), Nairobi (Kenya)) and research stations Bamako (Mali), Bulawayo (Zimbabwe). It was founded in 1972 by a consortium of organizations convened by the Ford and the Rockefeller Foundations. Its charter was signed by the FAO and the UNDP.

Since its inception, host country India has granted a special status to ICRISAT as a UN Organization operating in the Indian territory making it eligible for special immunities and tax privileges.

ICRISAT is managed by a full-time Director General functioning under the overall guidance of an international Governing Board. The current Director General is William Dar. The current chair of the Board is Nigel Poole.[1][2]

The Agro-Eco Region: The Semi-Arid Tropics

The semi-arid tropics (SAT) region is characterized by highly variable, low-to-medium rainfall and poor soils, further characterized by lack of irrigation. In general, the historical average annual rainfall in the SAT is below 700 mm. In agricultural policy terms, this region is considered to be a less favored area (LFA).[3]

Research strategy

ICRISAT adopts Integrated genetic and natural resources management as its overarching research strategy. The aim is to combine tested methods of crop commodity research with well established practices in research in natural resources management. The original goal was to use crop improvement research as the basis to improve food availability in drought-prone areas of the tropics. In the last ten years, ICRISAT research, especially in India, China, the Philippines and Vietnam, has tended to emphasize creation and sustenance of rural livelihoods in addition to releasing crop varieties that yield better.[4]

Mandate crops

ICRISAT performs crop improvement research, using conventional as well as methods derived from biotechnology, on the following crops: Chickpea,[5] Pigeonpea,[6] Groundnut[7] Pearl millet[8] Sorghum[9] and Small millets[10]

Research themes and Gene Bank

ICRISAT conducts its research under four themes: Agro-ecosystems development, Harnessing plant biotechnology and bioinformatics, Crop improvement and management, and Institutions, Markets, policy and Impacts

The ICRISAT Genebank serves as a repository for the collection of germplasm of the five mandate crops – sorghum, pearl millet chickpea, pigeonpea and groundnut; and six small millets – finger millet, foxtail millet, little millet, kodo millet, proso millet and barnyard millet. The collection has over 119,700 germplasm accessions assembled from 144 countries. Several landraces now conserved in the ICRISAT genebank have disappeared from their natural habitats in Africa and Asia.[11]

Innovations and Impact of ICRISAT Crop Improvement Research

Most of ICRISAT’s crop improvement research is directed at LFAs, At an aggregate level, there is evidence from India that crop improvement research is having favorable productivity and poverty impacts in many LFAs.

Based on an econometric analysis of time-series data for three different types of agricultural areas (irrigated,high-potential rainfed, and low-potential rainfed), non-ICRISAT experts found more favorable marginal returns (measured as Indian rupees of agricultural production per additional hectare planted to modern varieties) for crop improvement research in low-potential rainfed areas than in either high-potential rainfed areas or irrigated areas. Moreover, additional crop research investment in low potential rainfed areas lifts more people out of poverty than in the other two types of areas.[12]

They found that ICRISAT-improved chickpea varieties have been widely adopted in a poor tribal area in Gujarat, India, with favorable impacts on yields, unit production costs, and net returns per hectare. ICRISAT’s package of improved groundnut varieties grown in combination with improved agronomy practices is another example of a commodity- improvement program that has paid off handsomely in an LFA – in this case the semi-arid tropical areas of Central India.

Two major science-based breakthroughs attributed to crop improvement research at ICRISAT relate to Pearl Millet and Pigeonpea. A team of researchers at ICRISAT have released the first-ever, public sector-bred marker-assisted hybrid pearl millet, HHB 67. This was released in India in 2006. It is assessed to have superior agronomic performance and improved tolerance to terminal drought.[13] The first-ever release of a hybrid pigeonpea by ICRISAT researchers has been reported in 2008[14]

Virtual Academy for the Semi-Arid Tropics (VASAT)

Virtual Academy for the Semi-Arid Tropics (VASAT)is a strategic coalition for information, communication and capacity building, operating in South Asia (SA) and West and Central Africa (WCA) . VASAT links and mobilizes stakeholders for drought mitigation in the semi-arid tropics. It is an innovative and cost effective medium to educate and support a critical mass of rural women and men spread across vast geographical areas by informing them about drought and desertification.[15]

VASAT ingrains a[16] triple-helix approach in all its activities. Source of Agricultural Information, Innovative ICT4D delivery mechanisms. VASAT focus on the need to build advanced online content organization for agricultural sciences has led to the development of a semantically-enabled service[17] by ICRISAT. It also contributed to the design and development of the Agropedia by a team of computer scientists and engineers at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur.

Information Products and Services

ICRISAT formally adopted an Open Access policy for its research publications in 2009. It is among a small number of agricultural research organizations to do so. As of June 2010, about 3000 publications are available.

DBT-ICRISAT Platform for Translational Research on Transgenic Crops

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is collaborated with the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India, to establish a DBT-ICRISAT Platform for Translational Research on Transgenic Crops (PTTC) at ICRISAT’s global headquarters at Patancheru, near Hyderabad in India.

According to the Director General of ICRISAT, Dr William Dar, the PTTC will strengthen transgenic research for crop improvement by providing a platform, building synergies among institutions. ICRISAT will continue to harness transgenic research to solve problems that cannot be solved through conventional breeding.[18]

ICRISAT Scientists

Rajeev Kumar Varshney


See also


External links

  • http://test1.icrisat.org/Media/2008/media16.htm