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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.

[su_box title=”Additional Information” style=”bubbles” box_color=”#99bb41″ title_color=”#000000″ radius=”20″]


  • 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.




All you need to know about Soil Health Card Scheme

Deteriorating soil health has been a cause of concern and that has been leading to sub optimal utilization of farming resources. Soil health needs to be assessed at regular intervals so as to ensure that farmers apply the required nutrients while taking advantages of the nutrients already present in the soil.

A new centrally sponsored nation-wide ‘Soil Health Card’ scheme has been rolled out for the same.

What is Soil Health Card Scheme ?

• Soil Health card will carry crop-wise recommendations of nutrients, fertilizers required for farms of different soil types and will make it possible for farmers to improve productivity through judicious use of inputs. It will list the vital components of a particular patch of land. It will contain detailed information on various minerals present on the land, suitable crops, fertilizers to be used, and also whether the land is acidic or alkaline.

•  Thus  the card will contain all basic information and recommendations for the farmers which will help in improving productivity by using appropriate inputs. A Soil Health Card also displays soil health indicators and associated descriptive terms. The indicators are typically based on farmers’ practical experience and knowledge of local natural resources.

• A computerized system is being developed to allow local agriculture science centers across the country to keep details of soil test results. Soil samples will be collected even from small tract of farm land in remote village.

• All soil samples will be tested in various soil testing labs across the country. After which the experts will analyze the strength and weaknesses (micro-nutrients deficiency) of the soil and suggest measures to deal with it. The result and suggestion will be displayed in the cards.

• The scheme will provide all 145 million farm owners in the country with a soil health card in the next three years. They will be provided assistance by Krishi Vigyan Kendra.

Why the need ?

• Imbalanced use of fertilisers, low addition of organic matter and non-replacement of depleted micro and secondary nutrients over the years, has resulted in nutrient deficiencies and decrease in soil fertility in many parts of the country. It is fueled by a skewed fertilizer policy where urea is heavily subsided, leading to overuse.

• In absence of knowledge about soil health and adequate fertilizer recommendations, farmers often adopt excessive use of nitrogen which not only deteriorates the quality of agricultural products but also enhances nitrate content in ground water and creates several environmental problems.



• It will help the farmers in identifying health of the soil . Thus help in improving productivity through judicious and selective use of fertilizers and water.



NSSO Report 70th Round – Situation Assessment Survey of Agricultural Households in India

I have listed down the highlights of NSSO Report. It is a useful data-set – status of agricultural households, their diversifying income sources, access to financial products etc. You need not remember the figures. You need to get an idea, what the situation is.

Household type – Rural India has an estimated 90.2 million agricultural households— about 57.8% of the total estimated rural households in the country. An agricultural household was defined in the survey as a household receiving value of produce of more than Rs.3,000 from agriculture with at least one member self-employed in farming. What does this mean ? Around 58% of rural households are involved in agricultural activities. 40% make a living out of non-farming economic activities.Under the Census, any area not urban is deemed to be rural. What does this indicate? Farm sector’s share to GDP might keep falling even though rural area will have less of agriculture.