The power of sustainable partnership and convergence in pursuing science-led development to benefit smallholder farmers was the highlight of today’s 41st annual day celebration of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) at its headquarters here.
Bhoochetana is the land rejuvenation program of the state of Karnataka, India, that uses a holistic model for sustainable intensification with the goal to increase food production from existing farmland while minimizing pressure on the environment through efficient management of natural resources, and is recognized by ICRISAT as this year’s Outstanding Research Partnership Awardee.
Bhoochetana, an innovative partnership between ICRISAT, the Government of Karnataka (GoK) and other local and international institutions, has been rejuvenating land, agriculture and livelihoods in the second largest rainfed state in India, where more than 7 million farming families depend on for their incomes while contributing nearly half of the food requirements of the state.
“Bhoochetana started with 0.2 million hectares in the first year and by the fourth year, has grown to cover 3.75 million hectares, with 4.75 million farming families harnessing the benefits of the program through increased agricultural productivity. The estimated net economic benefits from Bhoochetana of around US$ 230 million prove that the potential of dryland agriculture can be unlocked to transform peoples’ lives through partnership and convergence,” said Karnataka’s Honorable State Minister for Agriculture, Mr Krishna Byre Gowda.
Speaking as Chief Guest at the annual day celebration, Mr Byre Gowda added: “I thank ICRISAT for selecting the Karnataka state to put to the test its Inclusive Market-Oriented Development (IMOD) strategy for reducing poverty and malnutrition, and achieving food security sustainably, with very positive results. The impacts of Bhoochetana in Karnataka are significant.”
This years’ Outstanding Partnership Award was shared by the GoK-Bhoochetana team with the ICRISAT Bhoochetana team led by Dr Suhas Wani, Principal Scientist (Watersheds) and Acting Research Program Director for Resilient Dryland Systems.
“Our partnership with the Government of Karnataka is unique as it showed the world that achieving impact lies in translating inclusiveness and convergence into action, with all partners working together for the benefit of smallholder, marginal farmers,” said Dr William D. Dar, ICRISAT Director General.
In his annual day report, Dr Dar highlighted ICRISAT’s milestones in doing “science with a human face – caring for the poor while growing in strength, relevance and viability as a global research for development organization.”
“Based on our ongoing impact assessment studies, we are now able to show our donors and investors that the return on investment in ICRISAT is very high. Each dollar invested in 10 of our major technologies in the last 40 years across crops, regions and technologies – has yielded USD 71 in return,” Dr Dar emphasized.
This means that over the last 41 years, ICRISAT interventions have greatly helped improve livelihoods of the dryland poor, empowering them with more productive and resilient innovations, supportive policies, and diverse, purposeful, and action-oriented partnerships.
“We continue to make great strides in improving crop productivity and profitability by upscaling and commercializing grain legumes and dryland cereals varieties and hybrids here in Asia and in sub-Saharan Africa. Our genome sequence work on pigeonpea and chickpea is recognized and highlighted all over the world. We also employ high-end science in our breeding programs to produce better crops suitable to the drylands,” Dr Dar added.
Mr KM Kaushik Mukherjee, Chief Secretary, Government of Karnataka; and Mr SV Ranganath, Former Chief Secretary, Government of Karnataka, were among the Special Guests during the occasion.
With the theme “ICRISAT and Partners: Key to Prosperity in the Drylands,” the annual day celebration also included the presentation of Science and Resource Mobilization Awards, and release of new publications.
This years’ Loyalty Day Awards ceremony for ICRISAT staff was held on 6 December, in which a total of 162 staff members were honored across its offices in India (headquarters in Hyderabad) and in Africa (Kenya, Mali, Niger, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria and Ethiopia).