The All India Coordinated Research Project (AICRP) on Fruits of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) under the National Agricultural Research System (NARS) is a unique mechanism for testing and recommending the location and need-based technologies depending on the agro-climatic conditions. In this system, both the Central Research Institutes and State Agricultural Universities (SAUs) work as a team (financial sharing at 75% and 25%, respectively) through an interdisciplinary approach. The mandated fruit crops are banana, Citrus, guava, grapes, litchi, mango, jackfruit, papaya and sapota.
This project provides opportunities for scientists working on similar problems in different institutions to come together and exchange their ideas and to collectively develop solutions to similar problems. Thus, they will be partners in enhancing the productivity and profitability of the mandate crops.
The ICAR-AICRP, a landmark in the history of agricultural research, was extended to fruit crops by the ICAR during the Fourth Five Year plan (1969–74) on July 31, 1971. This project was initially named the All India Coordinated Fruit Improvement Project (AICFIP) to work on Citrus, banana, papaya and pineapple as Cell-I and on mango, guava and grape as Cell-II. Later AICFIP was renamed AICRP; Cell-I was referred to as AICRP on Tropical Fruits at ICAR-IIHR, Bengaluru; and Cell-II became AICRP on Sub-Tropical Fruits at ICAR-CISH, Lucknow. In 2013, a merger of these two coordinated projects formed the AICRP on Fruits, which was acknowledged, and appreciated by the Planning Commission for evolving a unique mechanism of effective utilization of human resources and budget on a collaborative mode for delivering technologies to different agro-climatic regions. In this mode, ICAR-AICRP on Fruits aimed to empower the National Research Centres (NRCs) on banana, grapes and litchi and the Central Citrus Research Institute (CCRI) for better coordination and scientific output of the respective mandate crops, besides effective utilization of resources. Accordingly, the project is operational at 45 centres (at present, there are 28 SAU-based centres, 13 ICAR-Institute-based centres, 2 CAU-based centres and 1 each at a private centre in Pune and under the Government of Arunachal Pradesh). Among these, 20 centres are working on mango, 15 on guava, 11 each on banana and Citrus, 9 each on grapes and papaya, 6 each on jackfruit and litchi and 5 on sapota.
In this project, the centres have enriched the local germplasm collections besides supporting farmers of different regions with new recommended varieties and hybrids. In addition, the centres have also developed numerous region-specific technologies of crop production and protection as a best approach in meeting stakeholder need. The technology of crop-specific high-density planting systems has resulted in increased productivity. In addition to increased productivity potential, adoption of drip fertigation technologies has also enabled saving of critical inputs such as nutrients and water to the tune of 25%–50% and 20%–30%, respectively. Crop regulation techniques by using various chemicals and pruning methods have helped farmers produce more during off-season and helped in extending the fruiting period, thereby providing an opportunity for farm profitability. The centres of ICAR-AICRP on Fruits in different hotspots of mandate crops have provided a forewarning on the occurrence of insect-pests and diseases with suitable management techniques through effective extension strategies that resulted in managing the biotic stresses efficiently.
Based on the extent of the progress made and future needs in this sector, the project envisages to test the technology visibility through MLTs, evaluate and augment germplasm with NAGS, and maintain safety duplicates besides eliminating the duplicates in the core collection, evaluate improved input-use-efficient technologies and assess plant health management technologies under different agro-climatic zones. In addition, extending the assessment of PHLs to other mandate crops in major hotspots and demonstration of promising technologies on fruit crops in tribal are other focused areas of this project.