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ICRISAT AND CO. The CGIAR Centre in India

Shalini Bhutani


This paper examines the aims and ambitions of ICRISAT, one of the international agricultural research centres under the CGIAR, and asks whether its focus on links with the private sector and on the commercialisation of smallholder farming is helping to promote sustainable smallholder agriculture and food security. It has been commissioned by ADARSA (the Alliance for Democratising Agricultural Research in South Asia), whose members were keen to understand the work of the CGIAR, particularly the CGIAR Centres based in Asia. ICRISAT has had its headquarters in India for the last 40 years. Its 40th anniversary in 2012 seemed a good time to explore how it has been addressing the needs of the semi-arid tropics (SAT) in its host country and how its work in India has implications for other countries in the region. ADARSA, particularly in India, is aware of the changes in ICRISAT, but needed all of the developments relevant to its membership to be captured in one document. Accordingly, this paper was conceived as a presentation of ICRISAT, with an update on what it does today. It is primarily directed at the ADARSA audience, including those both in and outside its networks working on smallholder farming. It is also meant for sharing elsewhere in Asia, where recent years have seen much mobilisation against IRRI and an increasingly sharp critique of the CGIAR. And as ICRISAT steps up its work in Africa (see Chapter 5), the paper will be of vital interest to those working with small farmers in African countries too.

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