International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas

The International Center for Agriculture Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), a member of the CGIAR, supported by the CGIAR Fund, is a non-profit agricultural research for development institute that aims to improve the livelihoods of the resource-poor across the world’s dry areas.

ICARDA has been temporarily headquartered in Beirut, Lebanon, since leaving Aleppo, Syria, in 2012. Support is provided by research centers and offices in Jordan, Morocco, Ethiopia, Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey, Afghanistan, India, Iran, Oman, Pakistan, Sudan, Uzbekistan, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

Established in 1977, ICARDA’s origins lie in a 1973 study that highlighted the food security challenges faced by countries across the dry regions of the Near East and North Africa. ICARDA research activities include the development of new crop varieties, water harvesting, conservation agriculture, the diversification of production systems, integrated crop/rangeland/livestock production systems, and the empowerment of rural women.

Research Programs

Biodiversity and Integrated Gene Management: The Biodiversity and Integrated Gene Management Program works to conserve agricultural biodiversity in dry areas and to use these resources to improve food security, nutrition, and livelihoods through breeding. It covers durum and bread wheat, barley, chickpea, lentil, faba bean, grasspea, and forage and pasture crops. ICARDA scientists work on biodiversity conservation as well as crop improvement. Activities take both conventional and biotechnological approaches, and include integrated disease and pest management, and seed production and delivery systems to enhance the adoption of new varieties.

Integrated Water and Land Management: The Water and Land Management program aims to improve the management of scarce water resources, and to combat desertification and land degradation. ICARDA scientists develop technical, institutional, and policy options for improved water productivity in both rainfed and irrigated production systems; for sustainable, equitable, and economic use of all water sources; and for improved land management and drought mitigation. Research focuses on appropriate, effective technologies, such as supplemental irrigation and rainwater harvesting.

Diversification and Sustainable Intensification of Production Systems: The Diversification and Sustainable Intensification of Production Systems Program focuses on improving livelihoods, and reducing risk by intensifying and diversifying traditional production systems. Research covers agronomy, integrated crop-livestock-rangeland systems, market linkages, supporting diversification into higher value crops, and creating new income opportunities through value adding to crop and livestock products.

Social, Economic, and Policy Research: The Social, Economic, and Policy Research Program aims to better understand rural poverty, livelihood strategies, and gender and youth issues to improve the targeting of research and development investments and accelerate technology adoption. Activities include poverty mapping, value-chain and market analysis, and policy and institutional options in agriculture. Adoption and impact studies help identify barriers to the adoption of new technologies, provide lessons for the design of research and development programs, and provide quantitative evidence of the returns to research investments.


ICARDA’s decentralization builds on and strengthens the Center’s existing organization. Staff have been relocated to Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Ethiopia, Egypt, Tunisia, and Turkey, and the Center has established temporary headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon. Adoption of a more decentralized system will enhance the relevance, effectiveness, and impact of ICARDA’s research activities; better target diverse environments; and better align the Center with target areas in the CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) in which ICARDA is involved, including the ICARDA-led CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems.

Integrated Research Platforms

As part of its decentralization, ICARDA has established integrated research platforms that address research priorities in each region, but serve dry areas globally through collaboration and partnerships with national programs, advanced research institutions, and other partners in the development and dissemination of international public goods.

The Center has developed four major Platforms, including the headquarters:

Headquarters (West Asia): ICARDA has established temporary headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon, and expanded facilities and activities in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. Syria and Jordan also host a CRP Dryland Systems Action Site.

North Africa with a Platform in Morocco: Building on the existing partnership with INRA (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique), and focused on the intensification and diversification of rainfed cereal-based production systems. Morocco also hosts a CRP Dryland Systems Action Site.

Sub-Saharan Africa, with a Platform in Ethiopia: Building on the partnership with ILRI in the CRP on Livestock and Fish and on-going collaboration with the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR). Ethiopia also hosts a CRP Dryland Systems Action Site.

South Asia, with a Platform in India: Building on the existing partnership with ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research), and focused especially on food legumes systems. India also hosts two CRP Dryland Systems Action Sites.

Thematic research locations

Under ICARDA's decentralization strategy, the Center is operating four additional research locations with specific themes:

Egypt, for high-input agriculture: a platform with a targeted focus on high-input irrigated agricultural systems, building on collaborative research on irrigated wheat improvement and irrigated systems management.

Turkey, Central Asia and Iran for Winter Wheat and Winter Barley: a distinct environment with extensive high altitude and highland agro-ecologies with severe winters particularly suitable for breeding winter wheat and winter barley.

Turkey/ICARDA Cereal Rusts Research Center in Izmir: Providing expertise on wheat rusts through the Regional Cereal Rust Research Center within the Aegean Agricultural Research Institute, part of Turkey’s Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Livestock.

Sudan Heat Tolerance Research Location: This research location breeds heat-tolerant wheat and food legume varieties, in collaboration with Sudan’s Agricultural Research Corporation (ARC)


    Coordinates: 36°00′59″N 36°56′34″E / 36.016268°N 36.942801°E / 36.016268; 36.942801

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