Future Challenges and Opportunities for Agricultural R&D in the Semi-Arid Tropics

Ryan, J G and Spencer, D C (2001) Future Challenges and Opportunities for Agricultural R&D in the Semi-Arid Tropics. Monograph. International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics.

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This publication reviews past trends, summarizes the major constraints to income growth, food security, poverty alleviation, and environmental sustainability, and identifies future R&D strategies and priorities for the semi-arid tropics (SAT). The study focuses on sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where poverty, food insecurity, child malnutrition, and gender inequalities are widespread. ICRISAT's mandate cereals are becoming less important in household food budgets in Asia, but wi l l remain staple foods of the poor in the driest areas, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, the anticipated growth in demand for livestock products wi l l increase the derived demand for feedgrains, including sorghum and millet. Water wi l l likely be the primary constraint throughout the SAT in the coming years. Research could focus on identifying genes that can improve water-use efficiency and drought tolerance. Other areas include crop and systems modeling, watershed management, and water policy. Poor soil fertility is another key issue, and could be addressed using an integrated soil, water, and nutrient management approach. Research to improve nutrient-use efficiency wi l l be critical, especially in Africa. Research is needed on the extent, effects, and processes of land degradation. Limiting the mandate to the current five crops may reduce ICRISAT's future ability to impact on the welfare of the SAT poor. A thematic, problem-driven agenda would be more appropriate. Future research and policy agendas must account for regional differences, in resource endowments, infrastructure, etc. For example, labor-intensive technologies would be appropriate for the poor in South Asia, and labor-saving ones for sub-Saharan Africa. HIV/AIDS is a serious constraint to labor availability in Southern and Eastern Africa, and must receive explicit attention in R&D strategies. ICRISAT's research agenda for the future could also include: village-level studies to better understand the apparent poverty-environmental degradation t readmi l l ; reduction of marketing and transaction costs, especially in sub-Saharan Africa; strengthening the capacities of SAT farmers and national research systems wi th the aid of information technology; and development of gender-sensitive technology options.

Item Type: Monograph (Monograph)
Subjects: Others > Agriculture-Farming, Production, Technology, Economics
Depositing User: Library ICRISAT
Date Deposited: 12 Sep 2011 04:07
Last Modified: 12 Sep 2011 04:07
URI: http://oar.icrisat.org/id/eprint/1107
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