Photo by Neil Palmer/CIAT

The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) have signed a three-year work plan, kicking off an expanded set of research and capacity building activities between the two organizations.

Photo by Andy Jarvis/CIAT

Signed on September 11, 2017 in New Delhi, India, by ICAR’s Dr. Trilochan Mohapatra, and CIAT’s Dr. Ruben Echeverria, it sets forth areas for collaboration between the two organizations on a number of research areas: adding value to cassava, forages and livestock systems, agricultural landscapes and soil ecology, food systems and value chains, and, climate change and ecosystem services.

ICAR is India’s top body for coordinating, guiding and managing research and education in agriculture in the country. With 101 ICAR institutes and 71 agricultural universities, it is one of the largest national agricultural networks in the world.

Photo by Andy Jarvis/CIAT

The ICAR-CIAT partnership began in 1988 when the institutions signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which led to initial work plans focusing on cassava and forages research. More recently, CIAT has collaborated with India in climate change research, through the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). India hosts the South Asia hub for CCAFS, as part of the global program led by CIAT.

Under the new 2017-2020 work plan, ICAR and CIAT have agreed to expand the scope of collaboration by covering five key thematic areas — adding value to cassava, forages and livestock systems, agricultural landscapes and soil ecology, food systems and value chains, and, climate change and ecosystem services.

ICAR-CIAT Areas of Research Collaboration

Theme 1: Adding value to cassava
Topics: germplasm improvement and crop breeding; managing pest and disease risks; quality seed production; diversified uses and markets; socio-economic assessment

Theme 2: Forages and livestock systems
Topics: germplasm improvement and crop breeding; enhancing integrated livestock-crop systems; managing environmental impact of livestock sector and pasture lands

Theme 3: Agricultural landscapes and soil ecology
Topics: restoring degraded agricultural landscapes; soil health; assessment of land-use change; cropping systems diversification for sustainable soil management

Theme 4: Climate change and Ecosystem services
Topics: Big Data analytics of climate-smart agriculture; analysis and investment prioritization of adaptation and mitigation actions; climate-risk vulnerability analysis; decision-support tools and climate information services

Theme 5: Food systems and value chains
Topics: nutrition-sensitive value chains; developing and promoting nutrient-dense crops and varieties; agri-food based strategies for nutrition and health improvement; resilient and efficient agri-food systems; developing climate-smart value chains

“The work plan reflects the dynamic and expanding areas of ICAR-CIAT scientific cooperation, in response to changing needs and opportunities in India,” said Dindo Campilan, CIAT Asia Regional Director. “India’s own pool of scientific talent and resources in tropical agriculture makes it an ideal hub for ICAR and CIAT to reach out to the rest of South Asia, while building synergy with countries in the entire region of tropical Asia.”

As part of the work plan, CIAT will continue to share samples of improved cassava, forages, and common beans. CIAT holds the largest collections – 67,770 accessions – of beans, cassava, and tropical forages.

As an immediate result of the CIAT-ICAR agreement, two ICAR scientists joined a convention on big data in agriculture from September 19th to 22nd d hosted by the CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture at CIAT headquarters in Cali, Colombia. Bringing together a community of scientists, researchers, technologists, development experts, policy analysts, donors, and many others, the CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture aims to increase the impact of agricultural development by embracing big data approaches to solve development problems faster, better, and at greater scale than before. By reducing barriers to information access and reuse, the Platform hopes to democratize information availability and use, and help farmers and policymakers take reliable, informed decisions.

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