A growing pipeline of science-based agricultural innovations and impacts by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is impacting the lives of the dryland poor on a large scale, showing high returns on investment in agricultural research for development (AR4D), according to an ICRISAT impact assessment report.
In a 2014 impact assessment study of ICRISAT’s innovations called ‘Jewels of ICRISAT’, a return on investment of US$43 for every dollar invested, with an internal rate of return of 41%, was generated. By including innovations developed spanning four decades, average return on investment is higher, at US$70 per dollar invested, with an internal rate of return of 35%.
“These outstanding economic rates of return to investment in AR4D illustrate ICRISAT’s core science and development impacts,” said Dr William D. Dar, Director General of ICRISAT. The figures are based on ten of its most successful initiatives.
“These ‘Jewels’ represent ICRISAT’s AR4D work in the drylands of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, in collaboration with our development partners and stakeholders. As ‘international public goods,’ these science-based innovations are made freely available to national partners to help them meet development goals of overcoming poverty and attaining food and nutrition insecurity,” added Dr Dar.
“The report offers a very well executed analysis of the economic return on investment from 10 crop research programs undertaken by ICRISAT in recent years, with some projections of future benefits in ex-ante analyses of three other programs,” noted Professor William A. Masters of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and Department of Economics, Tufts University, USA.
“In my view, the report is clear and complete as it stands. ICRISAT is justifiably proud of these ‘Jewels,’ and is to be commended for continuing to document their impacts,” added Prof Masters.
The high returns on investment reported in the study indicate that even under a pessimistic scenario, ICRISAT’s best initiatives in the ‘Jewels’ have been significantly effective in raising farm productivity for smallholder farmers in fragile environments where the institute and its partners work.
The report assessed some of ICRISAT’s best AR4D successes making unparalleled impacts in the drylands, namely: community-based watershed management in Lucheba, China; fertilizer microdosing practices in Zimbabwe and Niger; creation and management of the hybrid parents research consortium (HPRC) on pearl millet and sorghum in India; and the breeding and release of many varieties of crops important to the drylands, specifically drought tolerant groundnuts in India (Anantapur district), Malawi, and Nigeria, extra-early pearl millet hybrid in north-western India, pigeonpea in northern Tanzania, and fusarium wilt-resistant pigeonpea in India.
Returns on investment of the following three additional ‘Jewels of ICRISAT’ have also been estimated: Guinea-race sorghum hybrids in Mali; sweet sorghum in India; and pigeonpea genome.