Targeting resilience and profitability in African smallholder agriculture: Insights from ICRISAT-led research programs uri icon

abstract

  • We reviewed the strategy for Agricultural Research for Development (AR4D) adopted by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). The objective was to examine ICRISAT's research strategy related to the twin challenges of resilience and profitability in developing technologies aimed at improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in the drylands of Africa. To do this, we examined the expected impact on resilience and profitability of its present program and the realized impact of ICRISAT's previous research. We argue that the current CGIAR Research Programs led by ICRISAT envisage separate product lines for resilience and profitability, targeted at two groups, i.e., subsistence-and market-oriented smallholders. This approach, expected to make technology more appropriate for farmers' needs, risks overlooking the interconnectedness of the two targets if they are too rigorously separated. Although our review of ICRISAT's previous research program suggests that success stories have taken numerous forms-some increasing resilience, others profitability-our review also suggests that it is possible to develop win-win technologies that improve both targets. Finding ways to replicate win-win technologies will require that ICRISAT tests the resulting technologies and their implementation in specific contexts to improve and replace them as the research programs evolve.
  • We reviewed the strategy for Agricultural Research for Development (AR4D) adopted by theInternational Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). The objective was toexamine ICRISAT?s research strategy related to the twin challenges of resilience and profitability indeveloping technologies aimed at improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in the drylandsof Africa. To do this, we examined the expected impact on resilience and profitability of its presentprogram and the realized impact of ICRISAT?s previous research. We argue that the current CGIARResearch Programs led by ICRISAT envisage separate product lines for resilience and profitability,targeted at two groups, i.e., subsistence- and market-oriented smallholders. This approach, expectedto make technology more appropriate for farmers? needs, risks overlooking the interconnectednessof the two targets if they are too rigorously separated. Although our review of ICRISAT?s previousresearch program suggests that success stories have taken numerous forms?some increasing resilience,others profitability?our review also suggests that it is possible to develop win?win technologiesthat improve both targets. Finding ways to replicate win?win technologies will require that ICRISATtests the resulting technologies and their implementation in specific contexts to improve and replacethem as the research programs evolve

publication date

  • 2017
  • 2017
  • 2017