CGIAR Research Program: Dryland Systems


The eight Centers of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) together with international development agencies, research-for-development and partner organizations from more than 40 countries launched CGIAR Research Program CRP titled "Integrated and Sustainable Agricultural Production Systems for Improved Food Security and Livelihoods in Dry Areas".

Dry areas cover 41% of the earth's land area and are home to more than one-third of its population. Drylands face serious environmental constraints, which are likely to worsen as a result of climate change. Traditional research and development approaches, focusing on a particular commodity or system component, have largely failed because of the complexity of the dryland systems. CRP1.1 will use an integrated approach, looking at the system as a whole, to promote and support innovation.


The purpose of the Regional Inception Workshop is to bring together partners working in the target areas identified for CRP 1.1 in Central Asia and the Caucasus (CAC). CAC is one of the five Regions globally where the CRP1.1 approach will be implemented. More specifically, the participants will review key hypotheses and research questions; discuss, validate and agree on outputs and activities for the Action Sites, and develop implementation plans. Characterization data compiled for the three Action Sites will be presented and reviewed. The Workshop will be attended by about 100 participants representing the different partner groups from all five Central Asian countries and Azerbaijan.


CRP1.1 “Dryland Systems” is the first large-scale research program to use an integrated agro-ecosystems approach to improve productivity and livelihoods in the dry areas. It aims to enhance food security for the rural poor and ensure environmental sustainability in dryland agro-ecosystems while enhancing social and gender-equitable development. CRP1.1 was developed from CGIAR Thematic Area 1: Integrated Agricultural Systems for the Poor and Vulnerable, described in the new CGIAR Strategy and Results Framework (SRF).

CRP1.1 will focus on target dryland areas/systems, identified by two criteria: (i) those with the most vulnerable populations, and often associated with severe natural resource degradation, environmental variability and social marginalization, and (ii) those with the greatest potential to impact on food security in the short to medium term.

To ensure the future livelihoods of dryland communities, it is critical to both manage risk more effectively and enhance productivity through the diversification and sustainable intensification of production systems. Past experience shows that an integrated approach would need to include better management of natural resources, improvement of agricultural crop, livestock, tree and fish production, creation of an enabling policy environment and institutional support. It is also critical to address social inequities in distribution of and control over resources, access to information, livelihood opportunities and decision-making.

The program seeks to prioritize key agricultural systems for impact, identify researchable issues within target agro-ecosystems, increase the efficiency and sustainability of natural resource use, develop more resilient agricultural systems to manage risk and production variability, promote in situ and ex situ conservation and sustainable use of dryland agrobiodiversity, improve the productivity and profitability of agricultural systems through sustainable intensification, diversification, value-added products and market linkages, identify niches of importance to the most vulnerable livelihoods, address constraints faced by the most marginal farmers, and develop new partnerships and models of working together. It also provides the poorest and most vulnerable sectors and individuals with the means and capabilities to contribute to innovation, benefit from these innovations and to enhance their own livelihood and that of their households.

Strategic Reseach Themes

CRP1.1 is driven by a conceptual framework in which four Strategic Research Themes (SRTs) cut across the five focus Regions. These SRTs represent the steps in the impact pathway. The outputs required to achieve each SRT have been defined. SRT2 and SRT3 focus on agro-ecosystems with different relative emphasis on increasing resilience versus increasing productivity.

  • SRT1: Approaches and models for strengthening innovation systems, building stakeholder innovation capacity, and linking knowledge to policy action;
  • SRT2: Reducing vulnerability and managing risk;
  • SRT3: Sustainable intensification for more productive, profitable and diversified dryland agriculture with well-established linkages to markets;
  • SRT4: Measuring impacts and cross-regional synthesis.

Preparations groundwork

During the CRP1.1 proposal development phase, it was apparent that details of implementation within each of the five Regions would need to be further developed in consultation with regional partners and stakeholders, and based on groundwork and detailed information on each target location, called “Action Sites”. It was therefore agreed to work on these details through Regional Inception Workshops in each target Region. Partners and stakeholders include: national research organizations, advanced research institutes with experience in dryland systems research, farmers’ organizations, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, water users associations, womens’ organizations, government representatives and policy makers, extension and rural advisory services, development agencies, as well as the international Centers themselves. The lead CGIAR centre for CRP 1.1 is the International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dryland Areas (ICARDA).

The preparatory work and the structure of the Workshop were developed by an interim Interdisciplinary Research Team in Tashkent, composed of AVRDC – the World Vegetable Centre, Bioversity International, International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), International Potato Center (CIP), International Water Management Institute (IWMI), supported and facilitated by the CGIAR Program Facilitation Unit (PFU) and several consultants.

Action sites

In Central Asia and the Caucasus, CRP 1.1 has identified three Action Sites, two largely meeting the conditions described as SRT 2 (Reducing vulnerability) and one largely meeting the conditions described as SRT 3 (Sustainable Intensification). In addition, two Satellite Sites were identified, both associated with SRT 3 type. The Sites are as follows:

Target SRT 2 Action SiteAral Sea Lowland: Dashoguz province in Turkmenistan, Khorezm province and Karakalpakstan Autonomous Republic in Uzbekistan, part of Kyzylorda province in Kazakhstan
Target SRT 2 Action SiteRasht Valley: Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan
Target SRT 3 Action SiteFergana Valley including Batken, Jalalabad, Osh provinces in Kyrgyzstan, Sogd in Tajikistan, Andijan, Namangan and Fergana provinces in Uzbekistan
Target SRT 3 Satellite SiteKura-Araks Lowland in Azerbaijan
Target SRT 3 Satellite SiteKashkadarya province in Uzbekistan

The Sites and the criteria originally used for identifying them are listed in the Tables below. The Sites were initially selected during a CRP1.1 global consultation in Nairobi, in July 2011. The preparatory groundwork for the Regional Inception Workshop included a detailed characterization of each Action Site according to a common set of bio-physical and socio-economic indicators. A set of research hypotheses and proposed Outputs and Activities were also developed. These documents will be shared with the participants and will provide the basis for Workshop discussion.

Regional Inception Workshop

12-14 June 2012, Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Expected outcomes of Regional Inception Workshop:

  1. Discussion and adoption of specific research hypotheses for the Action Sites, based upon a problem analysis of the key constraints and challenges;
  2. Review of impact pathway based upon problem analysis, successful interventions, and identified research-for-development gaps;
  3. Validation of Action Sites and Satellite Sites;
  4. Review and agreement on initial activities for three years proposed in each Action Site;
  5. Confirmation of partners’ roles;
  6. Validation of implementation plan with impact indicators;
  7. Review and completion of Action Site characterization information.

Workshop Outputs

Outputs (leading to these outcomes):

  1. Problem analysis for each Action Site discussed in working groups and tentative hypotheses reviewed, elaborated, and adopted;
  2. Review of successful interventions (or lessons learned from failures) presented and working group discussion to validate priority interventions;
  3. Synthesis of problems for which no successful interventions have been identified; working group discussion of possible interventions or strategy to design them;
  4. Feedback and inputs from partner groups about proposed research hypotheses and interventions and their potential roles;
  5. Working groups discuss and validate impact pathways and implementation plans.

Background Documents

Program of the Regional Inception Workshop for CAC

Research Hypotheses

Outputs and Activities - last consolidated version, July 2012

CRP 1.1 Site Characterization Data

List of Participants

Press Release

Introductory Presentations

  • CGIAR Research Program 1.1 "Dryland Systems" by Dr. Jozef Turok
  • Scientific content of CRP1.1 & Progress in the Inception Phase by Dr. Marteen van Ginkel

CRP 1.1 Document

Published Articles on the Web

Target Region Implementation and Partnership Workshop

21-23 August 2013, Fergana, Uzbekistan

Background documents

Participants list of the Meeting

The Program of the Meeting

Intermediate Development Outcomes (IDO) titles

IDO wise activities outcomes

Activity outputs grouped by IDOs

Research Activities to be implemented in 2013-2014 within DS CRP for Central Asia

Finalizing Logframe [Session 3]

Logframe for Central Asia