ICARDA's Proven Transformative Approaches to Cultivating Dryland Resilience

ICARDA's partner-led research portfolio, with more than forty years of work in the region, has generated a wide-ranging body of scientific evidence on how to strengthen food system resilience in dry areas. We take a holistic food systems approach that considers inclusive social and economic opportunities to support national and regional development and food security strategies.

Our 2030 strategy, released in 2024, sharpens and updates our research focus to ensure that our solutions remain current and deploy the latest agri-innovations and digital technologies to keep pace with accelerating climate change. ICARDA's strategic climate science approaches are designed to directly address the challenges of CWANA and the Middle East.


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Crops, Forages, and Genebanks

ICARDA plays a critical role in conserving, developing, improving, and disseminating climate-resilient, market-driven dryland crop varieties that can withstand environmental changes, including water scarcity. Our genebank network contains a treasure trove of genetic traits held in its 150,000 samples of landraces and wild relative species of major dryland cereals, food legumes, forage, and rangeland species. These traits, such as drought tolerance, enable breeders to develop climate-smart forages and crops, working in close partnership with local communities to understand local needs and contexts that can address food, feed, and nutritional security and result in more profitable farms. 

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Soil, Water, and Agronomy Management 

ICARDA takes a three-pronged approach to its sustainable land, soil, and water management research. It includes investigating climate-smart water use and management, conservation agriculture, and ways to improve soil health. Simply put, healthy soils require less water and fewer inputs, and they are more resilient to climate change than degraded soils. Innovations include mechanized raised bed technology, drip irrigation, conservation agriculture, and water harvesting.  

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Agrosilvopastoral Systems

ICARDA focuses on building ecosystem health for climate-resilient livestock and rangeland systems that emphasize the empowerment of local communities, especially women. Our innovations reduce the environmental footprint of dryland agriculture and restore ecosystems to increase resilience in food production systems. Innovations include the production of water-efficient dryland forages, the sustainable management and restoration of rangelands, and the integration of crop and livestock mixed dryland systems. 

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Inclusive Digitalization of Research and Scaling Technologies 

Our climate change science seeks to enable societies to better manage the risks and opportunities from climate variability by deploying the latest technologies, such as AI, which can significantly contribute to soil and water conservation. Our work to digitize the food system equitably and inclusively includes working with agri-experts and agri-tech actors to deliver affordable technologies like precision tools, mechanization, and predictive analytics across the value chain. This empowers agricultural communities, local agrifood

 partners, and national, regional, and local policymakers with the access to information and tools they need to make informed decisions and better manage climate stresses. 

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Resilient Agrifood Systems for Economic Resilience 

ICARDA works with partners to evaluate and assist in creating sustainable and inclusive climate-proof value chains based on a thorough evaluation of local and new markets, the development of supportive policies, and the creation of effective enabling environments, including through collaboration with the private sector. Approaches include desert farming technology such as solar farming and hydroponics, creating additional water sources such as treated wastewater for irrigation, and the sustainable intensification of target crops like date palm that can thrive in desert and dryland production systems. We also develop monitoring, evaluation, and learning systems for investment programs that support the development of agricultural commodities in non-tropical dry areas. 

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Women and Youth  

ICARDA takes a holistic approach to cultivating food system resilience to climate change. It includes participatory research, capacity building, and securing dedicated funding to support gender, equality, youth, and social inclusion in agriculture and pastoralism. Understanding the role of women, who represent 45% of the agri-workforce, and the challenges they face in each community is critical to raising their voice in decisions that drive research itself, as well as local climate strategy development and implementation, and to receive equitable access to the productive resources they need such as fertile land and improved seeds. Understanding youth's perspectives and ensuring that innovations for climate change mitigation and adaptation stimulate employment and entrepreneurship opportunities can help stem urban migration and retain young people in the agrifood sector. 

Climate Smart Crops
ICARDA plays a critical role in the conservation, development, improvement, and dissemination of climate-resilient, market-driven crop varieties.
Integrated crop-livestock production systems cushion each sector from external pressure and optimize economic, social and environmental conditions.
Integrated crop-livestock production systems that help farmers cope with changing climate scenarios.
Conservation Agriculture
Delivering practical technologies and solutions to help smallholder farmers produce ‘more with less.’


ICARDA innovations help countries and communities strengthen their adaptation to climate change and transition towards food and nutritional security.

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Cross Cutting Themes

Our cross-cutting research supports our three research priorities to provide integrated packages that help farmers to implement our innovations and new approaches and allow them to flourish:


Our Experts

Our diverse scientists offer a broad range of specialized skills within multi-disciplinary teams that generate evidence-based solutions grounded in science and in-depth knowledge of the environments and countries within which we work.

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