ICRISAT research in China
Since the 1980s, ICRISAT has been actively collaborating with China. In 2009, the Center of Excellence for Dryland Agriculture (CEDA) was opened together with ICARDA and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Its research focus is on eco-intensification and crop-livestock production to improve dryland resilience and livelihoods.
Drylands crops research
China is the world leader in groundnut production. Collaboration in groundnut research with partners such as the Oils Crops Research Institute and Shandong Peanut Research Institute covers aflatoxin management, genomics and crop breeding, utilization of wild species and mechanization.
Following the introduction of ICRISAT pigeonpea cultivars in the hilly areas of the southern China, where rainfall is over 1,000 mm, this legume has become popular. After extensive pigeonpea testing, research showed that despite poor grain yield due to damaging pod borer attacks, pigeonpea is a very interesting crop for fodder for goat and buffalo as it produces a large biomass of fresh leaves and tender branches, up to 50 t/ha. Currently, it is estimated that pigeonpea is grown on 150,000 ha in Guangxi and Yunnan provinces.
Chickpea is also grown in southwest China. ICRISAT breeding lines are tested for adaptation.
China is also among the world's largest producers of sorghum and millets. Small millets such as the foxtail millet are a key staple crop, especially among the poor in the dry north (boiled and eaten as a healthy porridge).
Genomics: Beijing Genomics Institute - Shenzhen has been a key partner for pigeonpea and chickpea genome mapping.
Integrated watershed management: In two benchmark watersheds in Guizhou and Yunnan Provinces, yields were very low due to poor farming practices and environmental degradation. Household incomes have more than doubled in 5 years, thanks to better water and soil conservation, diversification and better connection to markets. Yields rose dramatically, especially for vegetable production (6-7 times for tomato). Interventions included construction of small tanks to store run-off water, biogas plants as an alternative energy source to protect the forest, soil testing and advice on fertilization and better access to market information.