Strategic Plan

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ICRISAT Strategic Plan 2021-2025

iv ICRISAT Strategic Plan 2021-2025


Vision and Mission

Value Proposition


Current Partnerships

Future Partnerships

Country Engagement

Business Development and

Resource Mobilization

Comparative Strengths

Disciplinary Areas

Geographic Strengths

Capacity Development

Public-Private Partnerships

Outreach and Scaling

Global Research

ICRISAT’s New Research for Development Agenda

Impact Aspirations
















ICRISAT Strategic Plan 2021-2025


s an agricultural research for development institute that represents the

interests of many global stakeholders, and with a goal to deliver real

impacts to smallholder farming families and their communities in the drylands,

this ICRISAT's Strategic Plan 2021-2025 allows us to respond to change while

remaining faithful to our mission. We have had an opportunity to step back and

evaluate, consider and re-calibrate our programs and activities to co-create

a forward-looking approach to continuously improve our strategy to deliver

important results and outputs.

As we prepared new Strategic Plan, there were apprehensions brought about by

the COVID-19 pandemic. Even as this Strategic Plan is released, uncertainties

continue to affect our plans. With people still working from home and no clear

resolution to the changes being imposed upon us from different sources for

the major part of 2021, at times we questions the possibility of making positive

changes with urgency during the last quarter of 2020 moving into 2021. Yet, with

the same global challenges, we realized that there is no better way to use our

efforts but to actively explore opportunities and plan for a vibrant and productive

future. In these times of change and difficulty, our workforce remains our

strongest asset – dedicated, committed to our vision and ready to embrace the


We are pleased to share this five-year Strategic Plan 2021-2025 which builds

on our extensive partnerships, networking and our understanding of the needs

on the ground and sets out our current expertise with our vision for the next five

years of a streamlined, targeted research for development institution, working

closely with our partners and stakeholders in the private and public sectors.

With our unique advantages of expertise in the drylands and our nutritious grain

legumes and dryland cereals that tolerate the vagaries of climate change, the

recent advances in our research for development sphere will usher ICRISAT into

the new changing environment so that we will be highly competitive to play a

significantly greater role in supporting our partners and stakeholders to achieve

their Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets.

This fresh perspective through our new Strategic Plan 2021-2025 elevates our

work and positions our science, talent, partnerships and resources to fit into a

dynamic overarching strategy. We are grateful to our stakeholders, collaborators

and partners who helped shape this forward-looking strategic plan.

Jacqueline d'Arros Hughes

Director General


Prabhu Pingali


ICRISAT Governing Board

ICRISAT Strategic Plan 2021-2025

ICRISAT Strategic Plan 2021-2025

Vision and Mission

CRISAT’s mission is to reduce poverty, hunger, malnutrition and

environmental degradation in the drylands.

To contribute to this mission in the period 2021 to 2025, while we continue

to envision a prosperous, food-secure and resilient drylands, we will adapt

to the changing world in which we live. We will strengthen our research and

focus on delivery to ensure increased productivity of agricultural systems

in the drylands. Our crops, all of which thrive in the drylands, are both

productive in adverse conditions and have a high nutritional content. We

will empower women as we support the diverse cropping systems in the

drylands, ensuring equitable opportunities to improve income generation at

the family and community levels through value webs of diverse production

systems and by influencing policies.

We will actively pursue the optimal management of scarce resources,

alleviate resource degradation, contribute to improved soils and adaptation

to climate change and extreme events. We will work closely with partners:

CGIAR institutes, advanced research institutes, national agricultural research

and extension systems, the private sector, non-governmental organizations

and thought leaders to ensure demand-driven and responsive agricultural

research for development to contribute to the achievement of the UN

Sustainable Development Goals.

ICRISAT Strategic Plan 2021-2025

ICRISAT Strategic Plan 2021-2025

CRISAT brings scientific, evidence-based robust solutions to

agriculture and food systems of the drylands across

sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

We bring almost 50 years of experience, multi-disciplinary

knowledge and expertise, association with a wide range of global,

regional and local networks, as well as a healthy and inclusive

partnership approach to develop innovations and deliver at scale.

Our approach and partnerships as we tackle complex challenges

in the drylands makes ICRISAT stand out as a thought leader in the

drylands, as well as a compelling and reliable partner to ensure

delivery and impact.

Value Proposition

ICRISAT Strategic Plan 2021-2025

ICRISAT Strategic Plan 2021-2025

ICRISAT’s areas of specialization include:

▪ A deep understanding of the opportunities and

challenges of the drylands, which are some of

the toughest zones and environments in which

to attain the UN Sustainable Development Goals


▪ A focus on the most resilient, climate smart and

nutritious legume and cereal crops critical to

the dryland – chickpea, pigeonpea, groundnut,

sorghum, pearl millet, finger millet and small


▪ A collection of one of the broadest diversities of

genetic resources of our mandate crops which is

used to enhance the crops we work with.

▪ A core strength of world class research ranging

from genomics, gene editing, modern crop

breeding, natural resource management, seed

systems, class and climate-smart agriculture to

agribusiness models, digital solutions and

policy inputs.

▪ A value web / value chain approach with

considerable experience across whole agricultural

production systems and food value chains from

input supply to the consumer, as well as the

associated supporting environments, including

policy support.

▪ A focus on delivery of innovations at scale.

ICRISAT’s approach and partnerships include:

▪ A systems perspective to ensure holistic views

and to make sure key issues along the impact

pathway are addressed.

▪ A market-oriented focus.

▪ A commitment to evidence-based solutions.

▪ A multi-disciplinary approach to opportunities,

and to finding and implementing solutions to


▪ A focus on sustainability, from environmental

sustainability to sustainable business models.

▪ A participatory approach and integrating training

and capacity building.

▪ A wide connection with international, regional

and national networks as well as linkages across

regions to maximize knowledge sharing, capacity

building and inputs to solutions for the needs of

our stakeholders.

Climate change is having a significant impact on

agricultural productivity; extreme weather events

cause massive crop losses impacting the lives of

billions, while the global expansion of the dryland

regions continues. ICRISAT is strongly positioned

to deliver technologies adapted to the needs of

these drylands, in partnership with stakeholders,

drawing on the best technologies that are currently

available and developing more targeted and more

easily adopted technologies with our partners and


With focussed alignment towards the UN Sustainable

Developments Goals, we will orient ourselves based

on our vision and mission, bringing in partnerships

and technologies to respond to the most critical

needs of the drylands of Africa and Asia and help

achieve SDGs 1 (No poverty), 2 (Zero hunger), 5.b

(Gender equality), 13 (Climate action) and 17.6

(Partnerships for the Goals) for farmers in the dryland

regions together with a number of stakeholders.

We will also partner with stakeholders to bring our

expertise to bear on global needs.

Coordination of our activities is very important to

ensure that we do not duplicate activities or send

mixed messages to our stakeholders. Within Asia,

we are already coordinating with our partners and

will strengthen this harmonizing role by supporting

partners, helping build synergies targeted and

quantifiable impacts. In the drylands regions of

Africa, we will continue to have a leadership role,

working with our partners to maximize delivery of

technologies and build local capacity to extend the

research for development outputs and outcomes.

Our Crop Improvement Program activities in Asia

and Africa and crop testing sites will be further

strengthened to provide state-of-the-art facilities and

infrastructure to our partners for greater efficiencies

and economies.

We look forward to enhancing our funding streams

through dialogues with our donors, and are keen

to implement innovative funding mechanisms to

support our ambitious goals.

We share a vision where scientific innovations are

deployed faster, at a greater scale, at lower cost,

and with greater impact where they are needed the

most. We will continue to focus on our beneficiaries

and stakeholders in the drylands, ensuring improved,

sustainable cropping systems and

market chains.

ICRISAT Strategic Plan 2021-2025

ICRISAT Strategic Plan 2021-2025


CRISAT leverages strategic partnerships to meet the needs

of the numerous stakeholders and people in the semi-arid

regions whom it serves. One of our strengths is the diversity of

partnerships and the broad networks cultivated, in both public

and private sectors. With these partnerships we will ensure

positive impact, empowerment and environmental sustainability

in the crop production and food value chains on which we focus.


ICRISAT Strategic Plan 2021-2025


ICRISAT Strategic Plan 2021-2025

Current Partnerships

ICRISAT undertakes its research through

partnerships. It strongly believes that partnerships

are the only way in which global challenges can be

tackled, and the best local solutions created. We

work with many collaborators and have over 180

unique partners.

Partnerships are critical at all steps from discovery

to delivery in order to:

▪ Better understand local and diverse needs –

to develop better solutions and do this together

navigating through different cultures, gender

differences and engaging youth and other


▪ Produce cutting-edge science – to bring the

best minds together through partnership with

advanced research institutions and the private

sector to develop better and more holistic


▪ We are a catalyst to empower others – being a

source of knowledge from around the world that

can address local needs, and empowering others

to take the lead.

▪ We empower locally so that solutions on the

ground can be community owned and sustainable.

▪ We work with our partners to build capacity and

co-create knowledge through collaboration – by

working together and sharing knowledge.

The breadth of ICRISAT’s partnerships shows that

currently about half of our partnership funding

went to CGIAR Centers, and the other half to non-

governmental organizations, the private sector,

universities and national partners.

Some unique partnerships that ICRISAT has created,

in addition to those in which we participate, include:

▪ Hybrid Parents Research Consortium (HPRC):

Private seed companies are members and so

contribute to setting the breeding research agenda.

▪ Entrepreneurs through Incubators: Since 2004,

the Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP)

has incubated 41 agriculture and food companies

across India and Africa. In addition, we have iHub,

an incubator for agriculture technology (agri-

tech) start-ups and BioNCube, an incubator for

biotechnology start-up companies.

▪ The ICRISAT Development Center was established

in 2013 to focus on uptake of innovations at scale.

This Center has facilitated many new and existing

partnerships, converging with government programs

and engaging local non-governmental organizations

and civil society to roll out solutions on the ground.

▪ For the Tropical Legumes (TL) project, ICRISAT

developed partnerships with the International

Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and national

institutes from seven countries in Africa to create

a legume value chain that has benefitted up to 25

million farmers.

▪ ICRISAT’s Centre of Excellence in Genomics has

developed partnerships with 184 partners from

35 countries on genome decoding, trait mapping

and providing services for sequencing and marker


▪ ICRISAT’s Improved water harvesting techniques:

In the Bundelkhand dryland region of India, ICRISAT

partners with Indian Council of Agricultural Research

(ICAR) institutes, State Agricultural Universities, Swiss

Agency for Cooperation and Development (SDC) and

several grassroot NGOs to improve water availability

through better water harvesting techniques.

▪ Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): ICRISAT

developed its CSR strategy in 2014, which has

meant more engagement with private companies

outside of agriculture and food, from cement to

energy companies to support our mission. Through

this initiative, we access new sources of funds

in India, where the private sector must use 2%

of their profits for societal development including

investments in agriculture.

▪ Smart Food initiative: This initiative highlights the

nutritional benefits of ICRISAT’s crops and works

closely with consumers in partnership with chefs

and food influencers to change perceptions and

highlight nutritional opportunities. This initiative

has an executive team of key African and Asian

networks, in partnership with ICRISAT.

Future Partnerships

Our current partnerships and approach are critical

to achieving our mission; this partnership model will

remain a key working modality for ICRISAT.

Our overall target for partnerships is that 70% of

our projects and outputs (e.g., technology releases,

publications and communications) are with

collaborators and partners. We will strengthen our

current partnerships and build on new networking

▪ Ensure sustainable solutions – to address

the whole value web with a wide range of

partnerships including the implementors, private

industry and government partners.

▪ Assure uptake and scaling – to partner with

development specialists and private industry,

engaging at inception and working together through

the whole process to ensure localization and

sustainability of innovations over the long term.

▪ Advocate for appropriate approaches and

solutions – to work together at international,

regional, policy and local fora to share knowledge,

to be thought leaders and help bring about

positive change.

▪ Build confidence – to be able to attract partnerships

and investment to undertake our mission.

The roles ICRISAT can play in these partnerships

requires willingness and flexibility. Depending on the

need and the strengths of partners and other actors:

▪ We can be both a leader and a collaborator.


ICRISAT Strategic Plan 2021-2025


ICRISAT Strategic Plan 2021-2025

and partnering opportunities. Our intention is to work

through partnerships to achieve targets that we will

meet by 2025, as described below.

South-South collaboration

ICRISAT will be a catalyst for forging this collaboration.

Target: 30% of projects will include a South-South

collaborative component, ensuring knowledge

sharing and engagement between Asia and Africa.

Private industry partnerships

Our partnerships with the private sector will

range from strengthening our incubators (for

agribusinesses (see in Private industry partnerships)

and digital agri-entrepreneurs), corporate social

responsibility programs, research consortia and

new ways to engage with private industry on high-

end science to digital and downstream applications

ensuring uptake and sustainability of solutions.

Target: 30% increase in private sector engagement;

and 50% increase in corporate social responsibility


Collaboration with CGIAR centers

CGIAR centers will be one of our points of contact when

additional expertise is needed for project delivery.

Target: Up to a quarter of our projects are

undertaken in collaboration with CGIAR centers.

Women and youth

Diversity, equity and empowerment will be key

drivers of our partnerships. Women and youth

will be further included in our partnerships, from

program participants, stakeholders, researchers

and engagement of ambassadors to other advocacy

activities such as webinars and briefings.

Target: At least half of our partners will be women

and 30% of the partnerships will engage youth in

programs and activities.

Development agencies, international and local

non-governmental organizations:

These organizations will help ICRISAT strengthen

uptake and impact and will convert potential

competitors in some of our areas into partners.

Target: 40% increase in involvement with

development agencies.

United Nations organizations, senior government

officials and global thought leaders and


We will work closely with these partners,

and additionally with Development Banks,

philanthropists, high net-worth individuals, in-

country government representatives and others to

amplify our messages and influence high level policy.

Target: 40% more major new initiatives undertaken.

Country Engagement

Our engagement with our country partners and

stakeholders will be with improved internal

coordination, collaboration, efficiency, and we will

present a united face to stakeholders and partners.

We will strengthen our interactions with national

research partners to identify common priorities as the

basis for developing joint activities and workplans.

There are opportunities for ICRISAT to drive research

on food systems, particularly in the drylands which

comprise a significant 72%, of the land area

of developing countries. In the current setting,

ICRISAT’s ability to deploy technologies and influence

agricultural development in some dryland areas

has been limited as we are not physically present in

all countries. Our renewed engagement model will

includee strategies at the national level driven by

agro-ecological targets and national research priorities

which will allow us to contribute to the national

strategies through technologies and visionary thinking.

Building on the leadership role that ICRISAT has

created in India, we will take the lead in consultations

with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research

(ICAR) to co-create a framework of action. We already

coordinate a database of activities and resources in

the country with a State-level breakdown that provides

practical support to our stakeholders for project plans

and activities. Building on this, we will leverage our

strengths and look for opportunities around specific

programs and projects that align with the priorities

of the Government and donors, and with our global

research agenda. Joint collaborative proposals on

a larger scale will not only reduce the transaction

costs, but also have significant positive impacts, as

research outputs will be synergized in multidisciplinary

agricultural production systems.

Co-creation with our partners and stakeholders in

multi-disciplinary agricultural production systems

will provide an opportunity to integrate ICRISAT’s

focus crops (sorghum, pearl millet, finger millet,

small millets, pigeonpea, groundnut and chickpea)

more widely in other crop-based production systems,

thus improving crop and dietary diversification, and in

turn minimizing risk and improving nutrition.

Aligning with regional and national agricultural

priorities will give legitimacy and help to leverage

investments from global donors and investors, as well

as from in-country or regional sources, as there will

be support for investments that meet national needs,

aligned with meeting the Sustainable Development

Goal targets. We will deliver dryland system crop

varieties, improved production systems, resilient

value chains/webs and minimize environmental

impact, at scale and with reduced cost.

Business Development and Resource


Marketing our mission

The needs of, and opportunities in, the drylands

must be recognized. These tough environments

require investment to be able to achieve their

Sustainable Development Goal targets.

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