ICARDA’s National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) consultation meeting was held in Rabat, Morocco, on 3 May 2017, to discuss The Center’s new 10-year strategy designed for 2017-2026. The meeting gathered more than 40 participants including NARS representatives, donors, CG Centers and other partners.
ICARDA Board of Trustees member attended the meeting alongside the NARS, gaining vital reflections on ICARDA’s engagement with partners critical for sustainable agricultural development in the dry areas.
ICARDA Director General, Mr. Aly Abousabaa, stressed that the Center’s future success depended not only on the excellence of its research, but also on demonstrating real impact at scale, both of which are dependent on close partnerships with NARS and other organizations.
“The strategy for 2017-2026 is a unique opportunity to build upon the success of 40 years of research and development with partners in the non-tropical dry areas,” Mr. Aly Abousabaa said. “Our vision for the next 10 years is to create thriving and resilient livelihoods in the dry areas, with the overall objectives of reducing poverty, enhancing food, water and nutritional security, promoting environmental health in the face of global challenges such as climate change.”
Dr. Andrew Noble, ICARDA’s Deputy Director General for Research, presented the key strategic research priorities and cross-cutting issues that will be taken forward under the new strategy. NARS representatives reflected on this presentation in active working group discussions, which further informed the strategy.
Linking science and research results with large-scale impact in dry areas for sustainable development under climate change, the Workshop’s keynote speaker, Professor Rattan Lal, one of the world's distinguished soil scientists and Director of the Carbon Management and Sequestration Center (C-MASC) at Ohio State University, called for improving water productivity by restoring soil health. “Recarbonizing the world's soils is essential to increasing water productivity and mitigating drought,” he stressed.
Over the next 10 years, ICARDA is set to grow its reputation as a center of excellence in building resilient communities for hotter and drier climates, becoming a global leader in integrated crop-livestock farming systems for the dry areas, he said. ICARDA fully embraces the concept of working in a decentralized manner to meets its partners’ needs and reduce potential risks. Within the new strategy, there is an explicit focus on partnerships for impact that will ensure that the work undertaken is relevant, scalable, and has impact where it is needed. ICARDA board members and staff, together with NARS partners, visited the Merchouch Research Station, where ICARDA scientists develop improved high-yielding and resilient varieties of durum and bread wheat, barley, and legumes.
The meeting in Rabat provided an opportunity for the NARS to be involved at a critical stage of consolidation of the ICARDA Strategy. Their buy-in helped to reinforce the proposed work for the next 10 years, and through participation in active sessions querying the necessary structures and funding to support the strategy, strengthened the ownership of the work that will be taken forward with ICARDA.
ICARDA is unique in the world of international research centers. The NARS in more than 40 non-tropical dry areas countries are an integral part of the center’s research program, where public goods research is produced and tested locally, in close partnership with national scientists. This strategy helps focus results on local conditions, and more effectively delivers new technologies and practices to millions of people living in rural communities in dry areas.