News & CommentAgricultural Research

Midlife Crisis Threatens Center for Semiarid Crops

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Science  02 Jan 1998:
Vol. 279, Issue 5347, pp. 26-27
DOI: 10.1126/science.279.5347.26

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PATANCHERU, INDIA-- Twenty-five years ago, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) was established here to do for the region's chief subsistence crops what the Green Revolution had done for the cultivation of wheat and rice. But now a severe budget shortfall has triggered massive staff cuts and raised concern about organizational deficiencies. Those problems, in turn, led to a thorough house cleaning of senior management this summer. The turmoil comes on top of persistent criticism that ICRISAT has had too little impact on the practices of local farmers, despite a gene bank of 110,000 plant varieties and its success in developing a fast-growing, high-yield hybrid of pigeon pea. Ironically, the crisis comes amid forecasts that climate variability poses an increasing threat to productivity.