Historical Background

The Green Revolution in mid-sixties, though a boon to Indian agriculture, us here growth only in irrigated agriculture areas. During the Fourth Plan (1969-74), Govt. of India emphasized the urgent need for focusing attention on dryland areas in the agricultural development process. A comprehensive network research program was initiated to stabilize the performance of the then introduced hybrids of coarse cereals in rain fed region and to moderate the periodic drought related adverse impact on total agricultural productivity. Further, droughts of mid-sixties catalyzed the Govt. to invest on dryland research significantly. In1969, the Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi with strong aim for eradicating poverty evinced keen interest in dryland research and development programs. (AICRPDA) at Hyderabad, in collaboration with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

All India Coordinated Research Project for Dryland Agriculture (AICRPDA) was launched in 1970 by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in IV Plan period (vide ICAR letter No. 1-2/69-SC (1)/DF, dated June 18, 1970), in collaboration with the Government of Canada through Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) with with23centreswith Co-coordinating Cell at Hyderabad. The AICRPDA centers were identified based upon moisture deficit index(MDI).

In 1983,the climatology/agrometeorology research was undertaken at main centre, Hyderabad (QRT).However, to give a further fillip to dryland research by understanding and defining the crop growth related weather actors, the All India Coordinated Research Project on Agrometeorological (AICRPAM) with 12 Cooperating centres was setup in1983.

In 1985, Planning Commission in view of the national need to strengthen Dryland Agriculture Research, the Project Directorate/Main centre, Hyderabad was upgraded to Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA) in April, 1985 to undertake basic and strategic research while adaptive research continued with AICRPDA centres with Coordinating cell at Hyderabad.

The research focus in early1970s,in dryland agriculture was to improve productivity. Therefore, during 1970-75(IV Plan), sound foundations of systematic and location-specific research were laid out across AICRPDA centres leading to development of specific projects with the "Type" experiments on the concept of "Low Monetary Input" with basic crop production practices like time of seeding and plant population-geometry in relation to rainfall, farm mechanization for various agricultural operations crop substitution and cropping systems as a necessary input for improvedproduction intercroppingresearchwastoidentifytheregionswhereintercroppingwas feasible and to compare the productivity and stability of inter cropping versus monocropping in agroclimatic-regions where only a single crop is feasible in a year; screening of different crops for compatibility in inter cropping systems; identifying optimum row ratios for efficient moisture and nutrient utilization by component crops, identifying the best cultivars for the component crops and determining the optimum N and P doses for intercropping systems.

During 1976-1982(V Plan), the research continued on identifying efficient crops and cropping systems; crop husbandry for weather aberrations and alternate or multiple land use. Contingency plans, for each region, were a conceptual approach unique from AICRPDA project in developing location specific contingent crop strategies.

During 1982-1987(VI Plan), for bringing stability to dryland agriculture, the research continued on cropping systems that could ensure stable optimal yields and maximize profits in relation to agroclimatic resources (II QRT to VI QRT; IV to XII Plans), with further refinement of the systems through identification of genotypes, manipulation of sowing and harvesting dates and plant populations and fertilizer use. The pulses and oilseeds for med important components of the cropping systems research. Crop substitution concept was evolved in which the performance of various new crops was evaluated vis-à-vis traditional crops.

The major national programmes during 1970s and 1980s that linked with dryland agriculture research were:

  • 1973, Drought Prone Area Programme (DPAP)
  • Since1970s, ICAR-Crop AICRPs-AICRPDA: Crop improvement research in developing drought tolerant varieties by various crop AICRPs
  • 1977, Desert Development Programme
  • 1974, Integrated Dryland Development Project
  • 1982, Special programme on Integrated Watershed Management
  • 1984, ICAR-ModelWatershedProgarmme30modelwatersheds(500-1000ha), in13states were assigned to AICRPDA for technological backstopping.
  • 1986, simultaneously, with the success of Model watersheds, Government of India launched National Watershed Development Programmes in Rainfed Area (NWDPRA)in 15 states.

CRIDA is organized into two divisions viz. Resource Management and Crop Sciences and two sections viz. Transfer of Technology and Design and Analysis. The institute does not have any Regional Stations. It has also functioned as the Agro-eco system Directorate for Rainfed Research under National Agricultural Technology Project (NATP) during 1998-2005. The divisions are multi -disciplinary. The research projects are taken up theme-wise cutting across the divisions and disciplines. The outreach program is coordinated by AICRPDA and AICRPAM located in the Institute with networks spread across the country. The Institute has two research farms viz. Hayathnagar Research Farm (240 ha) located at 14 kms from the campus on highway N.H. 4 to Vijayawada located of east the campus and Gunegal Research Farm (80 ha) 42 kms from the campus on state high way to Nagarjuna Sagar, south-east of the campus; fourteen laboratories (viz. Soil Physics, Soil Chemistry, Plant Physiology, Agronomy, Microbiology, Plant Molecular Biology and Tissue culture, Entomology, Plant Pathology, Central laboratory, Hydrology, Agro forestry, Horticulture, Animal Sciences, and GIS), transgenic glasshouse, green houses, ARIS, library, conference facilities, office buildings with staff quarters, guest houses, training hostel, dryland gallery, farm machinery workshop, canteen etc.

Even though not a part of its mandate, CRIDA has conducted classes on its premises for the three-year vocational bachelor’s degree program as one of the options on Dryland Agriculture offered by the P.G. College of Science, Saifabad, Osmania University. Some scientists of CRIDA are recognized faculty members of ANGRAU, Osmania University and JNTU and guide students in masters and doctoral research programmes. Students from various other universities also received training at CRIDA for their project work (1 to 6 months) .

The KVK of Ranga Reddy district is located at Hayathnagar Research Farm of CRIDA. The KVK has administrative building, farmers hostel, home science block, two demonstration units, IPM lab, library, horticulture net house, vermicompost, soil testing lab, and museum. Other infrastructure includes different types of modern audio-visual aids, sewing machines, juice maker, Adda leaf making machine, spiral binding machine, shamiana/ tent, bullock and tractor drawn implements, garden tools, sprayers, dusters, exhibition boards, vehicle, motor cycle, different boards etc. It has 25 ha block in Hayatnagar Research Farm. With the rapid expansion of the Hyderabad city during last few years, agricultural activities have been rapidly receding in a wide arc around the city (in excess of 60 kms) and rendering the continued location of the KVK at CRIDA quite untenable.

To meet the challenges of sustaining domestic food production in the face of changing climate and to generate information on adaptation and mitigation in agriculture, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) launched a flagship network project ‘National Innovations in Climate Resilient Agriculture’ (NICRA) in 2011. Since 2011, CRIDA as Nodal Institute leading ICAR Flagship programme on National Innovations in Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA) NICRA.

Presently, CRIDA has the wide research and extension network of AICRPDA, AICRPAM and NICRA centres across the country (Fig.1.)