ICARDA (International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas)

ICARDA’s mission is to contribute to the improvement of livelihoods of the resource-poor in dry areas by enhancing food security and alleviating poverty through research and partnerships to achieve sustainable increases in agricultural productivity and income, while ensuring the efficient and more equitable use and conservation of natural resources.

ICARDA has a global mandate for the improvement of barley, lentil and faba bean and serves the non-tropical dry areas for the improvement of on-farm water-use efficiency, rangel and and small-ruminant production. In the Central and west Asia and North Africa region, it contributes to the improvement of bread and durum wheats, kabuli chickpea, pasture and
forage legumes and associated farming systems. It also works on improved land management, diversification of production systems, and value-added crop and livestock products.

Science specializations
1. Biodiversity and Integrated Gene Management Program aims to improve food security, nutrition and livelihoods, covers barley, lentil, faba bean, durum and bread wheat, chickpea, forage and pasture crops. It includes genetic resources conservation, germplasm enhancement, crop management practices, seed delivery systems and new research
methodologies. Target traits include yield, tolerance to drought, heat, cold, salinity, resistance to diseases and pests, and high end-use quality.
2. Integrated Water and Land Management Program addresses water scarcity and land degradation. It is developing technologies to improve water productivity, sustainable management of water resources, and support sustainable livelihoods in the context of desertification and changing climates. Concepts and methodologies include water
harvesting, and supplemental irrigation systems as well as soil fertility, nutrition and management.
3. Diversification and Sustainable Intensification of Production Systems Program aims at developing integrated crop–livestock (small ruminants) systems, strengthening market linkages, and supporting diversification into higher value crops and value-added products. Research areas include sheep and goat productivity, dairy productivity and quality, conservation agriculture, protected agriculture and high value crops.
4. Social, Economic and Policy Research Program is an integral component of research to better target poverty and identifies pathways out of poverty, develops policy and institutional options to improve livelihoods, and identifies barriers to the adoption of new technologies. Research areas include ex-ante studies of bio-physical interventions, monitoring and evaluation of the uptake of interventions, adoption and impact studies,
gender studies, policy studies.


ICARDA is located in the heart of an area which is the birthplace of agriculture, and of some of the world’s greatest civilizations: the empires of Ebla, Assyria, Sumeria, Babylonia and the Hittites. Its headquarters comprising offcies, modern field and laboratory facilities for
agricultural research are located at Tel Hadya 30 km south of Aleppo, in northwestern Syria. Major international airlines fly into Damascus and Aleppo. There are four distinct seasons and the terrain varies from desert to mountains to fertile fruit orchards.


ICARDA’s headquarters comprising of modern offices and field and laboratory facilities for agricultural research are located on a 950 ha farm at Tel Hadya 30 km south of Aleppo, Syria.
Apart from research fields, there are extensive greenhouse and other controlled environment facilities at the station. ICARDA’s Gene Bank is one of the largest in the CGIAR system and the CWANA region with over 130,000 accessions of its major mandate crops and their landraces and wild relatives. Specialized laboratories include those of biotechnology, pathology, entomology, virology, physiology, seed technology, seed health, soils (physics, fertility), food and feed quality, small ruminant health and nutrition and GIS facility. Lectures, discussions, group dynamics and participants’ presentations and indoor exercises are done in
these facilities.

A modern library, publishing facility (including graphic arts unit, photo unit, print shop with and audio/video facility) are also available. A computer and biometric services unit provides support in computer facilities, software packages and hardware maintenance. The biometric services address the needs of researchers in the design of experiments, data computing and analysis. AWARD fellows have unlimited access to these
facilties and services.

Qualified and well trained staff is a serious limitation to most national agricurural research systems (NARS) in the dry areas, thus human resource development is an integral part of all of ICARDA’s thematic research areas to ensure the effective utilization of advances in science and technology. ICARDA’s capacity development program supports and strengthens the
national agricultural programs through the provision of training opportunities that meet the needs of a wide diversity of clients and national priorities. This includes formal and informal education through specific tailor made hands-on practical short-term courses at headquarters
to supervision of postgraduate (MSc and PhD) students, interns, research and mid-career fellows from around the world. ICARDA accommodated over 600 postgraduate students, interns and research fellows from Asia, Africa, Americas, Australia and Europe in various disciplines within the Center’s thematic research areas including genetic resources conservation and management; conventional and participatory crop improvement; integrated crop management (agronomy, pathology, entomology); seed technology; small ruminants breeding, production and health; natural resource management (water, soils) and social sciences.

AWARD Fellowships
ICARDA offers research placements of three to nine months or more to AWARD fellows depending on their research topic. The Center also has seven regional offices in various regions of the dry areas at which fellows can be placed if appropriate. Each fellow will have office/laboratory space with computer and internet access and will be assigned to a supervisor who will work closely with them. Research fellows will be an integral part of the
research team and therefore have unilimited opportunity to have direct access and interaction with their supervisors and fellow researchers. The supervisor will guide the fellow’s research program, review research approach and methodology, monitor and evaluate the progress,
assist in critical analysis, and reviewing draft manuscripts for publication. Research fellows are encouraged to prepare in-house seminars in consultation with their supervisors to enrich their research agenda by interacting with the scientific community at the Center.


ICARDA offers logistic support to AWARD fellows including visa arrangements, airport transfers and assistance in locating suitable accommodation for fellows including those with dependents. The Center provides local transport to and from the research station and sites.
AWARD fellows are covered by accidental death and dismemberment insurance, as well as medical insurance program during their involvement with ICARDA. ICARDA provides accommodation in ICARDA and Aleppo University guesthouses. The University guest house consists of 20 single rooms each for men and women with kitchenfacilities and exclusively reserved for ICARDA visitors or trainees. The ICARDA guesthouse
consists of seven apartments with 60 beds in 30 rooms without cooking facilities.

AWARD fellows with dependents are assisted to find suitable affordable accommodation within the Aleppo city. The ICARDA International School of Aleppo (ISSA) caters for children from kindergarten to 12 grades with internationally accredited IB program, but on cost. In ICARDA, the induction program will provide an opportunity to meet senior scientists to
learn more about ICARDA’s mandate and research portfolio; and our welcome kit will take care of all information about daily life in Aleppo and historical sites in Syria.


ICARDA’s Social and Sports Club (ISSC) located in a garden setting in the city of Aleppo has sports and social/recreational facilities for a wide range of games and sports including football, tennis, volleyball, basketball, table tennis, squash and billiards. ISSC facilities are available for group dynamics, informal meetings and cultural presentations for the ICARDA
community representing over 50 nationalities.
Syria has many historical and archaeological sites, some at a short distance drive from Aleppo-one of the longest inhabited city in the world. Aleppo’s heritage is clearly visible in the national museum, the majestic citadel (the largest in the world), mosques, churches, old houses, the khans and the longest covered souk in the world. Moreover, the ruins of Ebla Empire (around 2,400 B.C.) and St. Simeon Church (412 A.D.) are within 60km south and northwest of Aleppo, respectively.

Web: www.icarda.cgiar.org  

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