MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing a $2 million grant for the formulation, adoption and implementation of land degradation policies and strategies and to reduce the vulnerability to climate change of target developing member countries.

The 12th Agriculture and Natural Resources Research at International Agricultural Research Centers is estimated to cost $2.863 million. Syria-based International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA) and India-based International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) will provide, respectively, $227,000 and $260,000 to support the project. Both ICARDA and ICRISAT are parts of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, which is a strategic partnership of countries, international and regional organizations and private foundations supporting the work of 15 international agricultural research centers.

The governments of participating developing member countries will cover the balance to complete the funding requirement for the project through their national agricultural research systems.

"Investing in agriculture and natural resource research is an essential means of reducing poverty and stimulating agricultural and economic growth, through improvements in productivity. In Asia, one of the most urgent and rewarding areas for research is to develop effective technologies, institutions and policies to deal with environmental changes due to land degradation and climate change," said Tun Lin, natural resources economist of ADB's East Asia Department.

The project has three components each targeting a select group of developing member countries. The first component will be for the People's Republic of China (PRC), Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The component will involve analysis of existing land use policy and institutional and environmental factors that influence land degradation. It will also identify policy options to support the adoption of improved sustainable land management technologies that combat land degradation and promote enhanced productivity. It will make policy and strategy recommendations to promote better development pathways and livelihoods based on sustainable land management.

The second component targets Bangladesh, PRC, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It will involve analysis of climate variability and its impact on cropping pattern, structures of income and employment, adaptation-coping strategies for the rural poor, and identification of best practices and institutional innovations to lessen the effects of climate change. It will also involve recommending strategies to address socioeconomic problems relating to weather patterns.

All developing member countries will be covered by the final component, which will focus on strengthening the capacity of ADB to coordinate, supervise, monitor and evaluate agriculture and natural resources activities.

The assistance provided by ADB to support its agriculture and natural resources research policy, which was adopted in 1995, has played an integral role in addressing the Bank's overall objective of poverty reduction and related priorities such as regional cooperation and sustainable environmental management.

Despite recent economic progress in the Asian and Pacific region, it remains home to two-thirds of the world's poor. Some 600 million people in the region live on less than $1 a day. Given that majority of poor people live in rural areas and rely on agriculture, and that agriculture paves the way for economic growth in poorer nations, the sector continues to determine the extent in which progress can be made in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

The Millennium Development Goals serve as blue print for nations and development institutions in fighting poverty and improving lives. The first goal seeks to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger by reducing to half, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people living on less than $1 a day and of people suffering from hunger.