Dryland Systems, as it is known, involves a wide range of partners including nine CGIAR Centers (Bioversity International, CIAT, CIP, ICARDA, ICRAF, ICRISAT, ILRI, IWMI, World Fish), the Challenge Program for Sub-Saharan Africa, more than 60 national agricultural research systems, advanced research institutions, development agencies, civil societies and the private sector. The Program also involves GFAR, AARINENA, APAARI, CACAARI, FARA, ASARECA and CORAF. The Program is led by ICARDA.
This unique approach will target the vulnerability of farming communities to drought and climate change and sustainably improve agricultural productivity, resulting in improved and more secure incomes for millions of people in dryland regions, while improving the productive capacity of natural resources and reducing environmental degradation in nearly eleven billion hectares across dry areas.
CRP1.1 (known as Dryland Systems) embodies a new approach to integrated and ‘holistic’ agricultural research. It combines several research disciplines, including crop selection and rotations, natural resources management, and socio-economics. The research will bring rural communities living in the world’s dry areas practical solutions for improved livelihoods and food security.
In essence its targeted outcomes and impacts can be summarized as:
· Low-potential and marginal dry lands: strategies and tools to minimize risk and reduce vulnerability.
· Higher-potential dry lands regions: Supporting sustainable intensification of agricultural production systems.
“The goal of Dryland Systems is to identify and develop resilient, diversified and more productive combinations of crop, livestock, rangeland, aquatic and agroforestry systems that increase productivity, reduce hunger and malnutrition, and improve quality of life among the rural poor,” says its director Dr Bill Payne.
Complexity in dry areas
An agro-ecosystems approach is being taken, he says, because of the marginal, complex and integrated nature of the dry areas, the need to address broad research questions that compare and contrast dryland systems of the world, and because of the challenge of scalability when expanding promising research outputs to different regions.
To develop solutions, research teams - in partnership with rural communities and countries - will validate the effectiveness of interventions in representative agro-ecosystems, and promote their scaling-out in the dry areas of five target regions:
• West Africa Sahel and the Dry Savannas
• East and Southern Africa
• North Africa and West Asia
• Central Asia and the Caucasus
• South Asia
Bringing together scientists, development practitioners, farming communities and investors throughout Africa and Asia, Dryland Systems uses a multi-stakeholder, integrated agro-ecosystem approach to manage dryland resources – the first of its kind on a global scale. “Beneficiaries will benefit from the expertise of ICARDA and its partners who have developed proven interventions aimed at boosting sustainable productivity, with yet more to come under this CGIAR research program,” concludes Bill Payne.