ICRISAT works closely with the Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University (AGRAU) and other research and development partners to raise the productivity of Telangana farmers, 86% having less than 2 hectares of farmland. Research focuses in particular on improving farmers' access to better seeds, integrated watershed management, the use of modern information and communication technologies for better extension services, and creating new market opportunities through innovative agribusiness services.
Facilitating a pigeonpea revolution: Pigeonpea is the main pulse crop during kharif, grown on 266,000 hectares in 2013-14, yet yields are way below potential. Maruti and Asha varieties were released in 1986 and 1993 respectively and cover half of the area. Support for the production of high-yielding pigeonpea hybrids, farmer training on better crop production practices and the setting up of sustainable seed systems are starting to yield results.
Farmer participatory integrated watershed management: For over 30 years, the rural community of Adarsha watershed has learnt how to improve climate resilience and agricultural productivity through low-cost natural resource conservation interventions and livelihood diversification. A recent impact study showed that groundwater recharge increased by over 200%. This model watershed is a precious site of learning of participatory natural resource management in semi-arid agroclimatic conditions.
Sorghum for food, animal feed and biofuel: Telangana has become a hub for sorghum seed production. Many improved varieties have been released for both kharif and rabi seasons, including hybrids, thanks to our collaboration with the Directorate of Sorghum Research. To respond to the animal feed demand from a growing dairy sector, ICRISAT is developing cultivars with high stover digestibility. Sweet sorghum is also a promising crop for the biofuel and beverage industries.
Better extension with innovative ICT: Numerous ICT platforms have been tested over the years with Telangana farmers and extension workers, so that farmers can get the right information at the right time. The latest system, the Green SIM, provides personalized and generic advisory services in the local dialect, such as recommendations for targeted soil fertilization, advice on credit and insurance, weather and market information.
Incubating promising and inclusive agribusiness: ICRISAT's Agri-Business Incubation (ABI) program has been providing comprehensive agribusiness services to more than 200 ventures in various fields like the seed sector, bioproducts, millet processing and mobile applications for farmers.
Village-level studies in Telangana: Extensive socio-economic studies have been carried out since 1975 in Aurepalle and Dokur villages in Mahabubnagar district to better understand the poverty dynamics and drivers of change in rural Telangana. Data are collected in particular on farming systems, households economics, nutrition and health, as well as gender indicators. Ultimately, women's empowerment will be measured using new data and strategies to reduce the gender parity gap.