The national co-ordinating agency for agricultural research in India, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), has created All India Coordinated Crop Improvement Projects (AICCIPs). These are interdisciplinary research networks linking ICAR institutes with the State Agricultural Universities, and their major activity is the testing and identification of improved crop
cultivars. The major objective of the study reported here was to examine how well the AICCIP crop breeding programmes meet the needs of rainfed farming systems. This was done by:- analysing the cultivars that are presently grown to quantify the extent of adoption of HYVs, and to whether low levels of adoption are particularly found among low-resource farmers;
– examining how the AICCIP trials system caters to the specific needs of low-resource farmers;
– reviewing the evidence in support of fresh approaches involving greater farmer participation.
We then suggest changes in the system intended to expand the range of acceptable varieties available to low-resource farmers, so contributing to more rapid cultivar replacement rates and higher adoption levels.