fbpx India | ICARDA




ICARDA India Country Office established in 2008

Country manager: Ashtoush Sarker 


ICARDA’s work in India is made possible through the support of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Department of Agriculture & Cooperation (DAC), Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, State agricultural departments of the Govt. Of Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra. Eight ICAR institutes and 12 State Agricultural Universities are primarily engaged in multidisciplinary research. The major donors are the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, National Food Security Mission of the Government Of India, OCP Foundation, State Govts. of Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, and Maharashtra; HarvestPlus, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), CGIAR Research Program on Wheat, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals (GLDC), International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Bioversity International, OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID).


India is home to over 1.3 billion people, making it the world's second-most populous country. It covers a range of climatic regions: the tropical south can be wet, dry, or humid, while the Himalayan north is defined by temperate alpine mountain ranges. Year-round, it experiences four different seasons, two of which are shaped by the effects of the monsoon. Out of this variety has grown 15 different agro-ecological zones, each differing in climate, soil type, fertility condition, cropping patterns, and hydrology. 


Today, India is one of the largest countries in the world in terms of agricultural outputs. In total, the sector contributes about 19.9% of the total GDP and employs more than 50% of the total workforce. Farming is the biggest industry in India and plays a key role in food and nutritional security, and the socio-economic development of the country.


Only about 35% of total agricultural land in India is irrigated and two-thirds of cultivated land is entirely dependent on rainfall. As such, the agricultural production system in the country is more vulnerable to damage from extreme climatic events, which causes increased water stress leading to inadequate water supplies for irrigation. Already, rises in average temperatures, changes in rainfall patterns, increasing frequency of extreme weather events, such as severe droughts and floods, and the shifting of agricultural seasons have been observed in different agro-ecological zones of India. Long drought spells during Kharif and increased temperatures and unseasonal heavy rains during the rabi season have caused serious distress to the farming communities in different states in recent years. Four major farming systems are prevailing in India: the irrigated system, rainfed system, silvo-pastoral system, and desert farming. ICARDA is predominantly involved in research and development for the rainfed system, in partnership with Indian institutions.


ICARDA India Activities 


  • Driven by the CWANA’s changing needs, ICARDA broadened its geographical coverage based on its 2007-2016 strategic plan and opened an India Country office and the South Asia & China Regional Program in 2008 in partnership with ICAR. The research portfolios include development and deployment of climate-smart and cost-effective technologies for rainfed cropping systems; scaling of pulses technologies; agricultural intensification and diversification in fallow-lands with pulses; and the introduction and identification of spineless cactus as alternative feed resources.
  • As well as improving economic water and land productivity and the development of productive cropping systems, the application of geo-agro technologies for precision farming is also underway. Capacity development of young researchers, students, farmers, and women are also key activities.
  • In its decentralization strategy, ICARDA launched its Food Legume Research Platform at Amlaha near Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh, India, on 24th February 2016. The aim of the platform is to serve India and the region by generating and deploying innovations for pulse-based production systems to reduce dependencies on imports. 
  • ICARDA, with its South Asia & China regional program, New Delhi, and NARS collaborators in India, is engaged in delivering pulses technologies for rice-fallow monocropping lands (around 11.65 million ha) to boost pulse production by at least 2 million ha. The initiative increases cropping intensity and provides sustainability in rice-based production systems. Appropriate pulse species, varieties, and management practices have been identified and implemented in nine Indian states through several projects.
  • ICARDA introduces diverse genetic materials of barley, faba bean, grass pea, lentil, Kabuli chickpea, and wheat through international and special nurseries based on national demands. They constitute germplasm, breeding lines, segregating populations, elite parents for hybridization, etc. These are evaluated in diverse agro-ecological conditions, and promising materials are selected and reevaluated through all India coordinated trials for eventual release as varieties. 
  • ICARDA developed innovative tools based on remote sensing and artificial intelligence to support the scaling of improved technologies (cactus and lentil varieties), with ex-ante assessment and suitability mapping of fallow lands and cropping systems (assessing regions and methods for suitability of said technologies). 
  • ICARDA and its partner institutions have discovered climate-resilient and cost-effective technologies for rainfed farming to enhance the livelihoods of farmers. 
  • To address the widespread fodder shortage, with support from ICAR and the Ministry of Agriculture in India, ICARDA began exploring the potential of using spineless cactus pear as a source of fodder in 2013. Cactus also demonstrates great adaptive traits under harsh agro-climatic conditions in many dryland areas, including in large parts of India, and often thrives where no other crops can grow. 


  • Every year, many genetic materials of barley, faba bean, grass pea, lentil, Kabuli chickpea, and wheat are evaluated at the Food Legume Research Platform (FLRP). The introduction of research products from Morocco and Lebanon, and their evaluation at FLRP, led to the identification of promising lines with respect to morphological and agronomic traits. In recent years, 490 Kabuli chickpea, 398 lentils, 259 grasspea, 128 faba bean, 2,164 barley, and 1,625 durum wheat lines have been shared with 15 partner institutions.
  • ICARDA’s research on genetic enhancement has led to the development of 16 lentils, 13 Kabuli chickpea, and seven barley varieties which are being cultivated by farmers in various agro-ecological zones. Some of them have special traits like biofortification, salinity tolerance, earliness with high biomass, and multiple resistance to diseases and pests. 
  • Rice-fallow mapping to understand the suitability of pulse species and varieties (fallow period, residual soil moisture retention after rice harvest, soil type, etc.) was accomplished in Odisha and West Bengal states. For short fallow periods and light soil conditions, lentil is the best fit; for long fallow (more than 110 days) and clay soil conditions, chickpea and grass pea are suitable.
  • Research findings on zero-tillage are being upscaled in farmers’ fields in Haryana, Rajasthan (millet-chickpea), and Bihar (rice-chickpea) (with IARI). The lentil variety RVL-31 is best for zero-tillage cultivation in soybean fields in Madhya Pradesh. Profitable cropping patterns were identified in the Indira Gandhi Canal Command area, which was 3.3, 4.9, 5.7, and 6.1 times more profitable than mustard, chickpea, cumin, and wheat, respectively. 
  • Mother nurseries with 67 varieties have been established at three ICAR institutions and FLRP_Amlaha, of which, 18 are well-adapted and are being multiplied at 19 nurseries at agricultural science centers and 20 village nurseries. Cladodes (shoot systems) are also supplied to farmers. Altogether, more than 350,000 cladodes are provided in six states of India.
  • A total of 34,750 farmers were trained on improved production technologies, quality seed production, storage, etc., and 14,400 women were empowered with new knowledge and skills on value addition, processing, packaging from pulses, and marketing. Housewives were also trained on Physico-chemical detoxification of grass pea for safe consumption.
  • The introduction of pulses (lentil, grass pea, and chickpea) in rice fallows is one of the key scaling activities in South Asia. In this endeavor, the program was implemented in states benefitting more than 55,000 farmers. Lentil varieties, HUL-57, Moitree, KLS-218, and grass pea varieties Mahatiwara, Nirmal, Prateek, and Ratan are farmer-preferred varieties in rice-fallow conditions.
  • Sixty-seven cactus varieties have been introduced and nurseries have been developed at FLRP-Amlaha and ICAR institutes.

Innovations in India


Indian lentils
ICARDA's Chief Lentil Breeder is celebrating World Pulses Day by praising the tiniest member of the legume family: the mighty lentil.

Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram, World Food Prize winner and former scientist of ICARDA and CIMMYT was awarded the Padma Bhushan award by the Government of...

Precision farming
Precision farming is often touted as a solution for industrial-type farms, but it is also a great option for small-scale farmers in the developing world.