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CGIAR funding doubles to US$1 billion in five years

The Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) has seen its funding double from US$500mn in 2008 to US$1bn in 2013, the organisation announced

With 15 research centres across the world, CGIAR works towards seeking solutions in improving food security and rural economies. This is done through development of climate change resilient crops, disease-resistant crop varieties and livestock breeds and vaccine production, among other strategies.

Rachel Kyte, chairperson of CGIAR Fund Council, said, “The challenge of producing more nutritious food to feed nine billion people in 2050 while the climate change threatens make some agricultural lands unproductive cannot be underestimated.”

CGIAR officials said that research can bring 150mn people in Asia out of poverty by boosting rice production, provide 12mn African households with sustainable irrigation, save 1.7mn hectares of forest from destruction and give 50mn people access to highly nutritious food crops. Climate change disproportionately hurts the poor and most vulnerable.

In Africa, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has been instrumental in developing vaccines against East Coast Fever (ECF) — a disease that kills millions of livestock in Africa. The vaccine could benefit 20mn people in the region, with annual benefits of US$270mn.

Other Africa-based research bodies include the World Agroforestry Centre and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

In Asia, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has developed a rice variety that can survive underwater for two weeks protecting harvests, incomes and food security of poor farmers and consumers during monsoons in Asia.

In Latin America, a CGIAR research centre namely International Potato Centre (CIP) has developed new potato varieties that can withstand late blight diseases and yield eight times more than the native varieties.

Across Asia and North Africa, a high-yielding wheat variety resistant to Ug99, a highly virulent disease, has been developed. This wheat variety is expected to protect livelihoods and food security of half a million families in these regions.

Viable agro-forestry practices like integrating food crops with trees have improved soil fertility and reduced gas emissions, increased rainwater use and boosted yields by up to 400 per cent for maize in the dry Sahel Belt, close to the Sahara Desert.

Frank Rijsberman, CEO of the CGIAR Consortium, said, “The $1bn in funding will help finance CGIAR’s global research programmes and accelerate the development of scientific, policy and technological advances needed to overcome complex challenges such as climate change, water scarcity, land degradation and chronic malnutrition, greatly improving the well-being of millions of poor families across the developing world.”

Other CGIAR global research bodies include International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and International Water Management Institute (IWMI).

Mwangi Mumero