Dryland Agriculture: Dynamics, Challenges and Priorities. Research Bulletin no. 20 uri icon


  • The developments in the dryland region reflect the pervasiveness of poverty, which isdemonstrated by the growing constraints of water, land degradation, continuing concerns aboutmalnutrition, migration due to frequent droughts, lack of infrastructure, poor dissemination ofimproved technologies, and effects of government policies and further economic liberalizationon the competitiveness of dryland crops. This research bulletin reviews past trends, summarizesthe major constraints to income growth, food security, poverty alleviation, and environmentalsustainability, and identifies future strategies and priorities. The discussion uses the semi-aridtropics as a focal point where poverty, food insecurity, child malnutrition and gender inequalitiesare widespread. A synthesis of evidences and lessons learned from ICRISAT Village Level Studies(VLS), conducted since 1975, is presented to provide empirical evidence on the vulnerability ofthe poor to various risks and shocks, as well as their capacity to access physical, financial andsocial resources and networks in the risky environments of the drylands. An analysis of availableevidences provided a basis for identifying major policy issues that need to be addressed. Prioritydevelopment interventions are identified to accelerate the pace of development of drylandagriculture: a) water as a catalyst for development; b) reorientation of public policies and bettertargeting of development interventions to dryland farmers, especially since they relate to keyfactors constraining agricultural productivity, and hence poverty reduction; c) diversificationwith a higher focus on crop-livestock development; d) innovative, cost effective and communitybasedmanagement of wastelands and common property resources; e) marketing, commercialorientation and competitiveness of dryland agriculture; and f) institutional innovations, buildingpartnerships, linkages and capacity. The development of dryland agriculture requires synergyamong technologies, marketing systems, input supplies, credit, policies and institutions. Abroadbased sustainable growth and development in the drylands of Asia and sub-Saharan Africais viewed as a key strategy for addressing rural poverty in the Asian and sub-Saharan region

publication date

  • 2006