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ICAR and ICRISAT – Partnership for Crop Research in India : Daily Editorial

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Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) and International Crops Research for semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) have joined together to work on crop improvement and agronomy programmes in India through Climate Smart Agriculture:

  • Focus Areas: Climate Smart Crops, smart food, digitisation of breeding database, integrating systems modelling tools for up-scaling climate resilient agriculture, developing genetic and genomic resources for finger millet and enhancing the genetic gains for priority traits.

Let us look at what Climate Smart Agriculture means.

Climate Smart Crops/Agriculture

  • Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) may be defined as an approach for transforming and reorienting agricultural development to account for the climate change.
  • Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), defines CSA as “agriculture that sustainably increases productivity, enhances resilience (adaptation), reduces/removes GHGs (mitigation) where possible, and enhances achievement of national food security and development goals.

The concept of Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) was originally developed by FAO and officially presented and at the Hague Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change in 2010, through the paper “Climate-Smart Agriculture: Policies, Practices and Financing for Food Security, Adaptation and Mitigation“.

  • FAO launched GACSA- Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture

What is GACSA?

  • GACSA is an inclusive, voluntary and action-oriented multi-stakeholder platform on Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA).
  • Its vision is to improve food security, nutrition and resilience in the face of climate change.
  • GACSA aims to catalyse and help create transformational partnerships to encourage actions that reflect an integrated approach to the three pillars of CSA.

What does GACSA Do?

  • GACSA fosters knowledge learning, sharing, partnership building, while also providing a space for dialogue and debate.

GACSA works towards three aspirational outcomes: Improve farmers’ agricultural productivity and incomes in a sustainable way; Build farmers’ resilience to extreme weather and changing climate; Reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with agriculture, when possible.

Smart Foods

The foods which are the ones which are “Good for you, Good for the Planet, Crucial for fighting poverty and food insecurity”

  • Nutri-cereals, especially millets including sorghum, have very little funding and attention compared to other major crops. The ‘big 3’ crops (wheat, rice and maize) receive most attention and support for development and are increasingly dominant in the minds of government, industry and consumers.
  • Nutri-cereals are under-recognized for their value and are important for diversification and complementing other foods. In particular, they are critical for both farmers and consumers because of:
    • high nutritional value
    • resilience under extreme weather conditions – critical in future with climate change
    • need for both diet and on-farm diversity
    • multiple untapped uses
    • large scope for further development
    • Appropriate for fighting poverty and food insecurity.

Good for You:

  • Low-glycemic index helps manage glucose levels and prevent diabetes.
  • Millets are high in Anti-oxidants, highest in folic acid.
  • Millets are highly digestible gluten-free.

Good for Planet

  • Millets are hardy and tolerant and only cereal crops that can grow in arid lands.
  • Millet survives better than Maize and rice in drought conditions and temperature up to 64 degrees.
  • They need less water.
  • They grow fast, need 60-65 days against 100-140 days for wheat.
  • Greater crop diversity on farm reduces pests, climate risks, improving farmers’ overall resilience.

Crucial to Fight Poverty and for Food Security

  • New Solutions needed to feed 9 billion people by 2050 because the third of areas growing rice, maize, and wheat have experienced yield plateaus or decrease in yield gain in last decade.
  • There is huge scope for growth in Millets with better seeds, inputs and farm practices can boost millet production to significant levels e.g., +55% in Niger using micro-dosing.
  • It is a crucial staple for millions in the drylands.
  • Multiple uses- pearl millet with up to 50% dry matter is the main animal feed for dryland herders in the dry season, could be used as biofuels and fermentation.

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  • The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is an autonomous organisation under the Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE), Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
  • Formerly known as Imperial Council of Agricultural Research, it was established on 16 July 1929 as a registered society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 in pursuance of the report of the Royal Commission on Agriculture.
  • The ICAR has its headquarters at New Delhi.
  • The Council is the apex body for coordinating, guiding and managing research and education in agriculture including horticulture, fisheries and animal sciences in the entire country.
  • Union Minister of Agriculture is the ex-officio President of the ICAR Society


  • The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is an international non-profit organisation that undertakes scientific research for development through demand-driven innovation
  • Vision is to bring prosperous, food-secure and resilient dryland tropics.
  • As they focus on the drylands, they have an extra specialisation on crops that survive in the harsh climates
  • Legumes: Chickpea, pigeon pea, Groundnut and
  • Nutri-cereals: Sorghum, Pearl millet, Finger millet
  • For these mandated crops, ICRISAT builds special expertise across the whole value chain – conserving, analysing, breeding, and understanding on- farm management practices, processing and agribusiness opportunities.
  • ICRISAT is a research centre of CGIAR – Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research.
  • Locations: India, Kenya, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria.


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  1. What is Climate Smart Agriculture and what are smart foods? Explain.
  2. Many areas have hit yield plateaus or decrease in yield gain in last decade for rice, wheat and maize. Food security needs new solutions. Explain.



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