Targeting resilience and profitability in African smallholder agriculture: Insights from ICRISAT-led research programs

Mausch, K and Orr, A and Miller, B P (2017) Targeting resilience and profitability in African smallholder agriculture: Insights from ICRISAT-led research programs. Facets, 2 (1). pp. 545-558. ISSN 23711671

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We reviewed the strategy for Agricultural Research for Development (AR4D) adopted by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). The objective was to examine ICRISAT’s research strategy related to the twin challenges of resilience and profitability in developing technologies aimed at improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in the drylands of Africa. To do this, we examined the expected impact on resilience and profitability of its present program and the realized impact of ICRISAT’s previous research. We argue that the current CGIAR Research Programs led by ICRISAT envisage separate product lines for resilience and profitability, targeted at two groups, i.e., subsistence- and market-oriented smallholders. This approach, expected to make technology more appropriate for farmers’ needs, risks overlooking the interconnectedness of the two targets if they are too rigorously separated. Although our review of ICRISAT’s previous research program suggests that success stories have taken numerous forms—some increasing resilience, others profitability—our review also suggests that it is possible to develop win–win technologies that improve both targets. Finding ways to replicate win–win technologies will require that ICRISAT tests the resulting technologies and their implementation in specific contexts to improve and replace them as the research programs evolve.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Research Program : East & Southern Africa
CRP: CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Cereals
CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Smallholder agriculture, dryland farming, resilience, profitability, development, ICRISAT, Agricultural Research for Development (AR4D)
Subjects: Others > Impact Assessment
Others > Smallholder Agriculture
Others > Agricultural Research
Others > African Agriculture
Others > Africa
Depositing User: Mr Ramesh K
Date Deposited: 05 Jul 2017 06:19
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2018 09:18
Official URL:
Acknowledgement: We thank the ICRISAT scientists at the annual Social Scientists’ meeting who suggested an outline of contents. Tilahun Amede, Deevi Kumara Charyulu, Sabine Homann Kee-Tui, Uttam Kumar Deb, Romeo Mensah, Nareppa Nagaraj, Swamikannu Neduraman, Jupiter Ndjeunga, K.P.C. Rao, P. Parthasarthy Rao, Tom van Mourik, and Andre van Rooyen provided materials. Dave Harris, Sabine Homann Kee-Tui, and Eva Weltzien gave useful comments on a previous draft. The paper was edited by Swathi Sridharan. We thank Dave Harris and Anthony Whitbread, who reviewed the original working paper for ICRISAT. The authors are responsible for remaining errors and omissions, and for the views expressed in this paper that should not be attributed to the organization with which they are affiliated.
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