The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has a mandate to improve the livelihoods of the poor in the semiarid tropical (SAT) regions of Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, which is home to 550 million poor people. Sorghum, pearl millet, chickpea, pigeonpea and groundnut are the staple food crops in the SAT, often grown on marginal lands with poor soil fertility and erratic rainfall. Dryland farmers are physically, economically and politically vulnerable and need to be empowered to enhance their income and livelihoods. Seed-based technologies (high-yielding and adapted cultivars) are the cheapest and easiest to be adopted by poor farmers, and often serve as catalysts for adoption of inputs such as fertiliser, pesticides and good crop management practices. ICRISAT partners with public- and private-sector institutions to ensure that seeds of improved varieties and hybrids are available to poor farmers at an affordable price and at the right time and place. As a public-sector institution, ICRISAT develops improved varieties and hybrid parents. Privatesector (PS) partners test, multiply and market promising hybrids through their well-established market linkages in the rural areas. ICRISAT has partnered with more than 50 seed companies in India, Indonesia, Egypt, Mexico and Brazil through a novel consortium approach to deliver its research products (improved hybrids and varieties) to poor farmers through public–private partnerships. Some PS partners, who have their own research programs, also benefit by accessing prerelease breeding material. This approach exploits complementary expertise and resources, and generates synergies between international agricultural research centres (IARCs) and the PS in development and marketing seed of improved cultivars, without compromising the global research agenda in delivering international public goods (IPGs).


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