Integrating genetics and natural resource management for technology targeting and greater impact of agricultural research in the semi-arid tropics

Twomlow, S. and Shiferaw, B. and Cooper, P. and Keatinge, J.D.H. (2008) Integrating genetics and natural resource management for technology targeting and greater impact of agricultural research in the semi-arid tropics. Experimental Agriculture, 44 (2). pp. 235-256.

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Good management of natural resources is the key to good agriculture. This is true everywhere - and particularly in the semi-arid tropics, where over-exploitation of fragile or inherently vulnerable agro-ecosystems is leading to land and soil degradation, productivity decline, and increasing hunger and poverty. Modern crop varieties offer high yields, but the larger share of this potential yield can only be realized with good crop management. The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), working over a vast and diverse mandate area, has learned one key lesson: that technologies and interventions must be matched not only to the crop or livestock enterprise and the biophysical environment, but also with the market and investment environment, including input supply systems and policy. Various Natural Resource Management (NRM) technologies have been developed over the years, but widespread adoption has been limited for various reasons: technical, socio-economic and institutional. To change this, ICRISAT hypothesizes that 'A research approach, founded on the need to integrate a broad consideration of technical, socio-economic and institutional issues into the generation of agricultural innovations will result in a higher level of adoption and more sustainable and diverse impacts in the rainfed systems of the semi-arid tropics.' Traditionally, crop improvement and NRM were seen as distinct but complementary disciplines. ICRISAT is deliberately blurring these boundaries to create the new paradigm of IGNRM or Integrated Genetic and Natural Resource Management. Improved varieties and improved resource management are two sides of the same coin. Most farming problems require integrated solutions, with genetic, management-related and socio-economic components. In essence, plant breeders and NRM scientists must integrate their work with that of private and public sector change agents to develop flexible cropping systems that can respond to rapid changes in market opportunities and climatic conditions. The systems approach looks at various components of the rural economy - traditional food grains, new potential cash crops, livestock and fodder production, as well as socio-economic factors such as alternative sources of employment and income. Crucially the IGNRM approach is participatory, with farmers closely involved in technology development, testing and dissemination. ICRISAT has begun to use the IGNRM approach to catalyse technology uptake and substantially improve food security and incomes in smallholder farm communities at several locations in India, Mali, Niger, Vietnam, China, Thailand and Zimbabwe.

Item Type: Article
Author Affiliation: International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Patancheru 502 324, Andhra Pradesh, India
Subjects: Social Sciences > Agricultural Economics
Crop Improvement > Genetics/Genomics
Divisions: Other Crops
Depositing User: Sandhya Gir
Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2011 17:45
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2011 17:45
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