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«SCIENCE COUNCIL   CGIAR Report of the Sixth External Program and Management Review (EPMR) of the International Crops Research Institute for the ...»

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Report of the

Sixth External Program and

Management Review (EPMR) of

the International Crops

Research Institute for the

Semi-Arid Tropics






ICRISAT Science with a human face

March 12, 2009 Dr. Rudy Rabbinge Chair, Science Council Consultative Group on InternationalAgriculturalResearch Wageningen Internation Costerweg 50 6701 BH,Wageningen The Netherlands Dear Rudy, Under the coordination of the Science Council, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) recently concluded its Sixth External Program and Management Review (EPMR) with Ken Cassman as the Chair of the Panel. The EPMR panel concludes that "ICRISATtoday is a thriving research institute. with a unique capacity to address poverty alleviation,food security, and natural resource protection in the SAT."

We would like to thank the Science Council for the very transparent and professional manner in which this exercise was conducted by the esteemed members of the panel.

We also greatly appreciate the exemplary technical support given by Sirkka Immonen of the Science CouncilSecretariat.

The EPMR report is a very positive report that highlights the quality of research at par with other CGIAR Centers with significant research spillovers, recognizing the strengthened partnership with NARS, the novel approach to private sector linkages and commending the strong leadership and leadership continuity. The views expressed by the panel as well as its positive and favorable assessment of the Institute were discussed and appreciated at our recent Governing Board meeting.

Attached are ICRISAT's responses to the recommendations of the EPMR.

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_ Stein W Bie

–  –  –

Recommendation 1 and Response The Panel recommends that ICRISAT continue to enhance investments in personnel and infrastructure in the SSA and use the potential for spillover to SSA as one of the explicit criteria used in prioritization of strategic investments in research conducted at the Patancheru headquarters.

Accepted We will continue enhancing and expanding our investments in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). We will use potential spillovers to SSA, and vice versa, as an explicit criterion for prioritization of research conducted in Asia through strategic planning and priority setting.

Recommendation 2 and Response

The Panel recommends that ICRISAT take ownership of and celebrate the strategic planning and research prioritization process based on: (i) proactive engagement of staff, Board, stakeholders, partners, and donors; (ii) analysis and understanding of recent crop yield and production trends, and projected growth in production and demand for its mandate crops, (iii) scenario analyses that utilizes geospatial analysis, ecosystem and crop modeling, and an appropriate socioeconomic framework.

Accepted Through a redesigned and revitalized strategic planning and priority setting process, the Governing Board and ICRISAT will effectively respond to the priorities of stakeholders for the sustainable development of semi-arid agriculture. Towards this, we will develop and implement a knowledge-based process that is inclusive, seeking inputs from key partners and stakeholders, more systematic and more explicit. This will build on our achievements, partnerships and comparative advantages in improving agricultural systems in the semi-arid tropics.

Recommendation 3 and Response

The Panel recommends a thorough analysis of past and likely future research spillovers between Africa and Asia to guide ICRISAT resource allocations between those two regions.

Accepted We will expand our work on studying research spillovers to guide strategic planning and resource allocation across regions and programs with special focus on identifying common biophysical and socioeconomic conditions that enable the adaptation and sharing of innovations.

1Recommendation 4 and Response

The Panel recommends that ICRISAT capitalize on its core social science strengths to enhance

activities in three areas and their interactions:

• research prioritization and project planning (at all levels within the Center);

• technology development and adaptation; and

• impact assessment Accepted We will continue harnessing our strengths in social science to improve research targeting, development, delivery and impacts. This will be institutionalized further as an integral part of our strategic research and planning process whereby insights gained from technology development and adaptation and impact assessment will be used as a guide.

Recommendation 5 and Response The Panel recommends that GT-IMPI work on the development of hypotheses that determine the IPG potential of ICRISAT’s downstream work on technology development, testing and adaptation.

Accepted Using impact assessment and other tools, ICRISAT will identify lessons and testable hypotheses that offer new insights to facilitate scaling up of technologies. We will implement this through wider dialogues among scientists across research themes and locations and with partners, including donors to demonstrate that our impact-oriented downstream work leads to IPGs.

Recommendation 6 and Response

The Panel recommends that ICRISAT expand expertise and research capacity in advanced biometrics for analysis of germplasm performance across multi-location environments using data generated across the network of multi-environment trials conducted by the Center and its partners across the Asian and African SAT.

Accepted In collaboration with strategic partners in both regions and with ARIs, we will enhance our biometrics capacity to capture the special opportunity available for ICRISAT to use multienvironment data, including genetic studies, in drawing lessons for future crop improvement research strategies.

Recommendation 7 and Response The Panel recommends that ICRISAT scale up its activities in marker development through strategic partnerships and resource targeting to accelerate the generation of high density reference maps that facilitate gene tagging for MAS in the mandate crops.

–  –  –

Recommendation 8 and Response The Panel recommends that ICRISAT establish minimal biotechnology facilities in Bamako or Niamey to allow DNA extraction, low throughput PCR-based genotyping and direct access to the bioinformatics platform at headquarters.

Accepted We will establish minimum facilities for DNA extraction in WCA and provide access by a critical mass of scientists in the region to genotyping services, bioinformatics platform, and training on how to use molecular data in crop breeding.

Recommendation 9 and Response The Panel recommends that ICRISAT build a core team with expertise in systems analysis, crop modelling, climate analysis, geo-spatial analysis, and economics located in Africa as a centerwide resource for research, strategic planning and impact assessment, and to concentrate the efforts now dispersed across regions.

Accepted In implementing this recommendation, ICRISAT will weigh the benefits of deploying such a core team at a single location in SSA against the need of retaining expertise in some of the recommended disciplines in various locations in the regions, and assemble the core team based on ICRISAT’s current expertise and prioritized research issues.

Recommendation 10 and Response

The Panel recommends that ICRISAT move rapidly to de-emphasise current mature lines of work, particularly in GT-AE (e.g. watershed management in Asia, microdosing, Africa market gardens, dryland eco-farms), and work that can be performed by the NARS (e.g. jatropha, pongamia, chickpea in rice fallow systems) to free up resources needed for new initiatives.

Accepted ICRISAT will adopt a nuanced approach in implementing this recommendation, guided by: (1) the availability and strengths of NARS and development-oriented partners, (2) need to provide technical support for such devolution, and (3) extent of remaining research issues for which ICRISAT has a comparative advantage.

3Recommendation 11 and Response

The Panel recommends that ICRISAT reorganize the structure and oversight of training and capacity building, and develop output quality criteria, as well as explicit expectations for mentoring and supervising research scholars, research fellows, and interns by ICRISAT scientists.

Accepted We will restructure and enhance the quality of our training and capacity building initiatives by developing performance and output indicators, fortifying consistency in selecting, mentoring and overseeing scholars and training participants and improving the mentoring capacity of our scientists. ICRISAT sees a particular need for an emphasis on SSA, and believes this should be a system-wide CGIAR priority.

Recommendation 12 and Response The Panel recommends that the Board bring greater rigor to the assessment of its own performance, and emphasize, in the orientation for new members, the responsibility of the Board to sustain its independence and its effectiveness.

Accepted Building on the present system, the Board is reassessing its current performance evaluation scheme to incorporate more rigor. The orientation of new members will underscore the critical importance of the Governing Board in effective governance and independence. In addition, the Board will continue to improve the rigor of its assessment of ICRISAT.

Recommendation 13 and Response The panel recommends that ICRISAT create succinct documents that synthesize 5-year trends in financial performance, priority setting and performance to give the Board more efficient and transparent access to information critical to oversight.

Accepted We will synthesize trends in ICRISAT’s institutional performance and prepare relevant succinct documents to assist the Board’s critical oversight.

Recommendation 14 and Response The Panel recommends that the Board adopt a multi-source evaluation process for the Director General that is rigorous and balanced and that provides the Board with more inflected and diverse inputs to the process. In addition to senior staff, the Board and DG should annually agree on a list of partners, donors and peers to be asked to participate in the evaluation.

–  –  –

Recommendation 15 and Response The Panel recommends that training be provided to senior scientific and administrative staff about how to develop and manage large projects, and how to balance research and project management.

Accepted Harnessing appropriate external and internal expertise and best practices, we will enhance the capacity of our senior scientific and administrative staff in developing and managing large projects.

Recommendation 16 and Response The Panel recommends that ICRISAT’s leadership clarify the role of PDMO in priority setting and send a clear signal about the drivers and determinants for establishing priorities for resource development.

Accepted We will further clarify PDMO’s role as recommended. Priority setting at ICRISAT will continue to be performed by its Research Committee (RC) vetted by Management and finally approved by the Governing Board. The PDMO plays a catalytic role in mobilizing resources.

Recommendation 17 and Response

The Panel recommends that ICRISAT must present ASP’s mission, structure and relationship to research in a more transparent fashion and re-assess ASP, either to narrow the ventures it pursues, or, in the interests of minimizing risks to the Center’s reputation, create a different structure with clearer boundaries between it and the Center.

Accepted We will carefully assess ASP’s mission, structure and function to further enhance its complementarity with ICRISAT’s research and resource development, and to minimize risk.

5 ______________________________________________________________________________________________

–  –  –

Dr Rudy Rabbinge Chair, Science Council Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research Wageningen International Costerweg 50 6701 BH, Wageningen The Netherlands Dr Ren Wang Director Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research The World Bank 1818 H Street, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20433, USA Dear Drs Rabbinge and Wang, On behalf of the Panel, I am pleased to transmit the Report of the Sixth External Programme and Management Review (EPMR) of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid

Tropics (ICRISAT). The Panel has reviewed ICRISAT’s performance in the four broad areas of:

i) mission, strategy and priorities; ii) quality and relevance of the science; iii) effectiveness and efficiency of management (including governance and finance); and iv) accomplishments and impacts. We have also addressed the list of strategic issues received from the Science Council.

The Panel finds ICRSIAT to be in the midst of a renewal after many years of retrenchment. It is a strong, well-funded research institute that has expanded its regional programs in SSA while also building strategic research capacity at its headquarters in Patancheru, India. The Center has strengthened its collaboration with the host country and also with NARS throughout the semiarid tropics (SAT). Overall the Panel commends ICRISAT for a well-balanced and substantive research portfolio. Going forward the Panel recommends that ICRISAT give greater emphasis to strategic planning and research prioritization to help guide decisions about the regional balance in resource allocation and about where to position the institute’s work across the research— development continuum.

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