How we work

What we do

We provide innovative, science-based solutions for communities in the non-tropical dry areas of the developing world, particularly in West, Central, and South Asia, and North and sub-Saharan Africa. We work together with a wide network of national agricultural research systems (NARS) and advanced research institutions to enhance their efforts and competencies so that they can drive their own research and development agendas. We also work closely with other CGIAR research centers, NGOs, governments, and the private sector. Our work advances scientific knowledge, shapes practices, and informs policy.

  • Evidence shows that 4°C of warming is possible in non-tropical dry areas by the end of the century. We conserve and use agrobiodiversity in our gene bank and small ruminant breeding programs to develop new germplasm and breeds to adapt to this change.
  • We lead integrated, rainfed, irrigated, and marginal farming systems for dry areas, using the diversity of crops and livestock to build profitable and sustainable farming enterprises.
  • We develop sustainable value chains for non-tropical dry areas in our mandate crops – barley, lentil, faba bean, wheat, chickpea, and grass pea – and small ruminant livestock.
  • We develop innovative approaches to manage water, land, and soil resources to address water scarcity, enhance soil health and productivity, and neutralize land degradation.

Challenges in dry areas

Non-tropical dry areas cover over 40 percent of the world’s land surface and span 100 developing countries, with a growing population of more than 2.5 billion people. These people grow 44 percent of the world’s food and keep half of the world’s livestock, yet almost one-fifth live in chronic poverty. Dry areas also face major challenges, including insufficient rainfall, climate variability and change, land degradation, desertification, recurring droughts, temperature extremes, high population growth, widespread poverty, and unemployment. Additionally, dry areas are home to many fragile and post-conflict states that rely on agrarian economies.

We combine scientific evidence and indigenous knowledge from dryland communities to address these challenges, which also have a considerable impact on emerging global issues of food security, land degradation, and climate change. Our research aims to provide the evidence required to better position dryland issues firmly on the research and development agenda at national, regional, and global levels.

Our three main goals contribute directly to the Sustainable Development Goals agenda:

  • Improve natural resources and ecosystem services: by developing equitable and sustainable management practices for land, water resources, energy and biodiversity in drylands for future generations.
  • Improve food and nutritional security and health: targeting poor, marginal and vulnerable communities.
  • Reduce poverty: by generating higher, diverse, and more sustainable incomes through functional markets that result in better standards of living for men, women, and children in drylands

Our mandate

Within the CGIAR consortium, ICARDA has a global mandate for the crop development of barley, lentil, and faba bean, and serves the non-tropical dry areas for the improvement of water-use efficiency in agriculture, rangeland issues, and small-ruminant production. In the Middle East and North Africa region, and in Central Asia, ICARDA contributes to the improvement of bread and durum wheat, kabuli chickpea, pasture and forage legumes, and associated farming systems. We also work on land management topics, the diversification of production systems, and value chains for sector-based crop and livestock products. Social, economic and policy research, as well as communication and knowledge sharing, is an integral component of ICARDA's approach to enhance the uptake of new technologies and maximize the impact of research outputs.

Our Approach

Central to the success of ICARDA’s new Strategic Plan 2017-2026 is a diverse set of partners with common goals. We recognize the roles of different partners and clients. We engage with NARS, development partners, governments, and other change agents to ensure that the knowledge we generate is put into use.

We work together with a core group of partners in joint initiatives. We also work with clients that directly use the outputs from our research agenda, including government decision-makers, development partners, investment banks, NGOs, and private companies. Finally, we work with the ultimate beneficiaries of our work: smallholder households, value chain actors, and rural communities. Our work with partners and clients produces a range of outcomes that include the adoption of climate-resilient and water-efficient crops and livestock, better management practices, evidence-based policies, interventions to improve value chain performance, and more nutritious diets. We link with a plethora of players to scale up these outcomes and achieve thriving and resilient communities in dry areas.

To measure progress, ICARDA uses the Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning Platform, a customized database developed jointly with other CGIAR research centers. CGIAR’s Strategy and Results Framework 2016-2030 provides indicators to evaluate our progress.

Why Work with ICARDA?

Our unique scientific expertise, our vast network of partners across dry areas, and our decentralized model of operation put us in a strong position to deliver the innovative solutions needed to transform agriculture and achieve sustainable development in non-tropical dry areas.

Failure to meet the challenges of dry areas will result in high costs, setting back economic and human development, and exacerbating political instability. Research that contributes to sustainable development in dry areas is essential in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, and ICARDA’s work directly contributes to their advancement. We are well positioned to deliver climate-adapted genetic resources, farming systems, markets, and livelihoods.

Our comparative advantages

  • We deliver science for impact. Our internationally-renowned scientists with a range of specialized skills work in multi-disciplinary teams, generating evidence-based solutions for non-tropical dry areas.
  • We are a trusted partner and a go-to organization in West, Central, and South Asia, as well as North and sub-Saharan Africa. We understand the cultures, languages, and environments and we have access to wide networks of partners with whom we are able to convene forums that bring together decision-makers and actors.
  • We have a long history of working in fragile post-conflict countries. We can play a key role in rebuilding agricultural sectors, boosting food and nutritional security, supporting job creation, and building human capacity.
  • We hold crop genetic diversity in trust. With unique collections of the world's major food crops in our gene bank, we are a global leader in the collection and conservation of plant genetic material. We use this genetic material to provide traits needed to cope with diseases and changing climates.
  • We respond to issues on the ground through our decentralized structure. We are headquartered in the Middle East with regional offices across North and sub-Saharan Africa, as well as in Central and South Asia.
  • Founded on our own resilience as an organization to innovate and adapt to change, our capacity helps ensure that our donors and partners work effectively together and with us to support resilient livelihoods in dry areas.