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Donors Adopt Bold Approach to Spur Agricultural Research

November 8, 2010

In a powerful display of solidarity with the world’s poor, key donors and stakeholders meeting in Washington, D.C. last week, took a decisive step toward harmonizing funding for agricultural research for development. They agreed to channel their collective support into major strategic research initiatives that will decisively confront hunger and poverty in developing countries, while cushioning climate change impacts and curbing natural resource destruction.

“This represents a bold response to the major challenges that agriculture faces today,” said Inger Andersen, CGIAR Fund Chair and Vice President for Sustainable Development, World Bank. “A more collective approach for supporting agricultural research will give new impetus to the work of the 8,000 scientists and other professionals of the CGIAR, building on a strong record of major positive impact on human well-being.”

The new agreement establishes a multi-donor trust fund (the CGIAR Fund), connecting donors with the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers. Approval came after deliberations by the CGIAR Fund’s decision making body, the Fund Council, on November 1-2. Fund donors also confirmed new leadership and members of the CGIAR’s Independent Science and Partnership Council. CGIAR Fund donors further agreed to support two new strategic research programs – one dealing with rice-based farming systems and the other with climate change, agriculture and food security.

Building on consultations with hundreds of collaborators around the world, the rice program underwent rigorous external review and revision. The result is a broad research agenda centering on major rice ecologies and fostering critical developments in rice genomics, genetics, agronomy, postharvest handling and policy.

To ensure maximum impact, the research will be carried out jointly by three CGIAR Centers and major international organizations in France and Japan in collaboration with hundreds of partners, including the private sector, national agricultural research systems and civil society. Partners will officially launch the new initiative on November 10 at the Third International Rice Congress taking place in Hanoi, Vietnam.

The initiative on climate change, agriculture and food security, developed with the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP), will involve all CGIAR Centers and a wide coalition of partners. It will offer developing country farmers new options for coping with current climate variability, adapting to emerging impacts in the coming decades and mitigating climate change through a “carbon-friendly” agriculture that also strengthens food security and reduces poverty. This program will be launched during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in early December at Cancún, Mexico.

“We are very pleased with these outcomes of the Fund Council meeting, and we look forward to having the first two programs as well as others fully operational and funded in the coming months,” said Carlos Pérez del Castillo, Consortium Board Chair.

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