ICARDA's new Strategic Plan 2017–2026 is harnessing cutting-edge scientific research to address the challenges that smallholder farmers face across dry areas. Demand driven and building on 40 years of experience, the strategy offers practical approaches to enhance food and nutritional security, halt or reverse resource degradation, and strengthen resilience and climate change adaptation.

The new strategy emerged after an extensive consultation process with key stakeholders and partners and a careful assessment of their needs and priorities – including national agricultural research systems (NARS), CGIAR centers, and donors.

It is aligned with national and international development priorities, including the national development plans of the countries we work in, the wider Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Agenda for 2030, and the Strategy and Results Framework 2016-2030 of the CGIAR system. It aims to spur innovation, transform agricultural production, and create thriving and resilient communities.

Last year was the strategy's first year of operation as the Center began to align its research activities to five strategic priorities and four cross-cutting research themes.


Genetic resources: mining genes and adding novel diversity to develop superior germplasm that can withstand future climate- and market-related challenges, including traits of heat, drought, cold, and salinity tolerance, disease resistance, nutritional attributes, and water efficiency.

Adapting to climate change: using conventional and molecular breeding to develop climate-smart crops and livestock for greater food and nutritional security, and stronger resistance to pests and changing climates.

Building resilience: promoting integrated crop-livestock farming systems through the optimization of economic, social, and environmental conditions in resource-poor areas, and optimizing plant biomass for restoring soil health and for livestock feed.

Promoting value chains and policies: developing sustainable value chains, viable policies, and off-farm activities to diversify incomes, create income-generating businesses, and provide employment opportunities.

Enhancing water and land productivity: supporting the sustainable use of water and land resources through rainfed, irrigated, and agro-pastoral farming, and focusing on ecosystems and landscapes that offer opportunities to reverse environmental degradation, enhance intensification, and support livelihoods.


Scaling up proven technologies: promoting proven technologies, investing in partnerships, and seeking more engagement with agricultural research institutes, the private sector, NGOs, development agencies, and financial institutions to put knowledge into action.

Empowering women and youth: improving women's access to land, water, seeds, financial credit, and knowledge, and encouraging disenfranchised youth to consider a future in agriculture.

Building capacity: strengthening research capacity to develop an empowered cadre of researchers and thriving institutions in the dry areas, applying research in the field and engaging closely with smallholder farmers, making scientific expertise accessible, and providing research funding opportunities.

Big Data and ICT: using geoinformatics, remote sensing, and genomics to enhance research efficiencies and policy communications.