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Andhra Pradesh

Agriculture remains the backbone of Andhra Pradesh's economy. Raising agricultural productivity and farmers' resilience are crucial development priorities for the State in the years to come. ICRISAT’s research in the State, such as the recent breakthrough in chickpea breeding, ICT innovations for better agricultural learning or a consortium approach for better natural resource management, are helping towards this goal.

70.4% - Share of Andhra Pradesh's population living in rural areas (2011 census)

86.2% - Land holdings of less than 2 hectares in Andhra Pradesh

80% - Share of improved pearl millet seeds produced in India that comes from Andhra Pradesh


General context

Andhra Pradesh has many competitive advantages such as a long coastline (2nd after Gujarat), plenty of mining resources and recent investments in infrastructure. In June 2014, the Telangana State, comprising of 10 out of 23 districts, officially separated from Andhra Pradesh.

Agriculture remains the backbone of the state economy as over two-thirds of the population live in rural areas (70%). Andhra Pradesh has been historically called the "Rice bowl of India" and continues to be the largest producer of rice in the country. Since the 1980s, there has been a shift in agriculture from traditional cereal-based systems towards commercial commodities such as oilseeds, cotton and sugarcane. Andhra Pradesh has become a leading producer of fruits and cash crops like groundnut and other oilseeds, cotton and sugar.

Water availability and climate risk are major constraints for farming. The climate, highly dependent on the monsoon, varies considerably from a more humid climate in the coastal areas to semi-arid in central parts of the State. A majority of farmers live off holdings of less than 2 hectares, practise rainfed crop farming and are vulnerable to droughts. The priorities for inclusive rural development are to significantly raise the productivity of smallholder farmers and their climate resilience, as well as increase non-farm rural employment opportunities.

ICRISAT research in Andhra Pradesh

Since its creation in 1972, ICRISAT has collaborated with institutions in Andhra Pradesh in many agricultural research fields.

Improved varieties: Drought-tolerant groundnut variety ICGV 91114  has been a success since its release in Anantapur district. This dual-purpose variety yields 23% more than the local variety TMV 2, and its highly digestible haulm serves as fodder for cattle. Andhra Pradesh's chickpea production jumped from 95,000 tons in 1999-2000 to 850,000 tons in 2009-2010 (a 9-fold increase) thanks to the adoption of new early-maturing cultivars. Pigeonpea is another important pulse grown on half a million hectares. ICRISAT's wilt-resistant pigeonpea varieties like Maruthi, Asha and Laxmi have been cultivated for three decades. ICRISAT has developed the world's first ever pigeonpea hybrids. Hybrid ICPH 2740, very promising for black soils in the State, was released in 2012 and is being commercially cultivated since 2014 by the State’s farmers.

The biofortified iron-rich pearl millet variety ICTP 8203 is one example of improved cultivars of dryland cereals developed through ICRISAT’s millets and sorghum crop breeding programme. This is the first biofortified crop cultivar officially released in India. Andhra Pradesh produces 80% of the improved pearl millet seeds marketed in India.

Better farming practices: Thanks to integrated pest management (IPM), pigeonpea and groundnut farmers in pilot areas of Andhra Pradesh have significantly reduced their use of insecticide. Another ecological farming method tested and disseminated is the biological control of pigeonpea pod borer

Reaching out to small farmers through ICT innovations: The large adoption of mobile technologies among the rural poor in the last few years is a great opportunity to use ICT innovations to increase farmers’ access to critical information, such as weather forecasts, pest risks and pest control advice, information on quality inputs or identifying the right credit and insurance solutions, etc. ICRISAT has developed financially sustainable ICT-mediated agro-advisory systems; Krishi Gyan Sagar and Krishi Vani  were launched in 2013 in Karnataka, as well as in Andhra Pradesh. 

Sustainable natural resource management: In the semi-arid rural areas of Andhra Pradesh, many farms face land degradation, reduced water availability and other dryland stresses, exacerbated by inappropriate soil and water farming practices. For more than 30 years, ICRISAT has tested in Kothapally (Adarsha watershed), a consortium approach for better natural resource management in Indian drylands through farmer participatory research. Kothapally’s watershed model is being replicated in various parts of Andhra Pradesh (eg, public-private partnership in Medak district), other Indian States as well as other parts of Asia.

Inclusive markets: Since 2003, thanks to the Andhra Pradesh government’s support, ICRISAT’s Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP) has been helping to link smallholder farmers to markets. Along with a food safety laboratory, this platform looks at value addition of ICRISAT’s mandate crops (eg, the Nutriplus Knowledge Program which has developed healthy snacks from millet and sorghum grains), as well as incubating promising agribusiness enterprises [ABI-ICRISAT, part of the Indian agribusiness incubators network (NIABI)] in the field of biotechnology and seed production, biological pest control products and sweet sorghum processing.

Pearl millet variety ICTP 8203 has the highest iron content (63-66 ppm). The first  biofortified variety released commercially across India, is Dhanashakti.

Chickpea revolution: Yields rose from 583 kg/ha to 1,308 kg/ha over 10 years, thanks to improved varieties like JG 11 (70% production area).

Commercialization of the drought-tolerant groundnut variety ICGV 91114 was facilitated by ICRISAT's agribusiness incubator