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The semi-arid tropics (SAT) are characterised by their poor natural resource base, high day temperatures, high evapo-transpiration, poor market linkages, low returns, risk bearing ability and repayment capacities. These areas shelter 75 per cent of the poor and accordingly deserve prime attention from the technologists and policy makers. This paper highlights the impacts of the innovative HOPE (Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement of Dry Land Cereals) project of ICRISAT in addressing the poverty and related issues in the SAT states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana and Maharashtra. With key technological and institutional interventions the project has provided fillip to the integrated farming system characterised by the time tested crop-livestock combination in Maharashtra, and pearl millet-buffaloes combination in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Haryana. Thus, with diffusion of innovations, provision of quality seeds, efficient input delivery and market linkage, more than 75 per cent of the farmers benefitted through bridging the productivity gaps and thereby enhanced incomes in both crop and livestock sectors. The welfare gains accrued to the farming community are evident due to cost effective technologies in harsh agro climatic conditions. These have nullified the vicious circle of poverty through effective and appropriate institutional interventions and infrastructure tailor made for semi-arid areas. It is crucial that the sorghum and pearl millet sector be supported by strong governmental policies and programmes, for food, fodder and better nutrition through value addition and demand creation, as they are the prime crops supporting food and fodder in dry land areas.


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