22) CGIAR research vital for achieving the Millennium Development Goals

Science-based agricultural research being carried out by the 15 international agricultural research centers under the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) is the backbone of the international efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of reducing global poverty by half by 2015.

According to Dr William Dar, Director General of ICRISAT and former Chair of the Alliance Executive of the Alliance of the CGIAR Centers, the CGIAR's new research priorities are fully aligned with the MDGs. The research activities of the CGIAR Centers are particularly effective in helping achieve reduction of poverty and hunger through increased agricultural productivity.

“CGIAR research helps empower poor households to escape poverty, improve their livelihoods and make them competitive in a globalized market,” Dr Dar said, speaking at the global conference of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) and the Asia Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI) at New Delhi recently.

The role of the CGIAR Centers is critical since agricultural growth is critical to achieving the MDGs. Agricultural growth has a multiplier effect in reducing poverty. In sub-Saharan Africa, a 10% increase in yields brings a 9% decrease in the number of people living on less than $1 a day. The new technologies of Green Revolution in India in the 1960s increased the average income of the poor farmers by 90% and that of the landless laborers by 125%.

The relationship between improvement in agricultural productivity and decrease in poverty is strong since 50% of the global poor are smallholder farmers and 22% are landless rural poor, who derive their income from agricultural activities. About 8% are pastoralists, fisherfolk and forest dwellers, who too in some way are benefited by improved agricultural productivity.

Investment in international agricultural research also has a multiplier effect on agricultural productivity. For every dollar invested in international agricultural research, nine dollars worth of additional food is produced in developing countries where it is needed the most.

With a combined force of 8,500 scientists and support staff in over 100 countries, the CGIAR Centers are generating cutting-edge science to help achieve the MDGs. These Centers evolved from a commodity-based approach in the 1960s, where they worked on increasing the productivity of rice, wheat and maize to a more holistic and problem-oriented approach currently.

The new CGIAR research priorities include sustaining biodiversity for current and future generations; producing more and better food at lower cost through genetic improvements; diversifying crop basket with high-value commodities; promoting sustainable natural resource management; and improving policies and institutional innovations to reduce poverty and hunger.

In addition to working with national and regional agricultural research systems, the CGIAR Centers also collaborate with network of agricultural research institutions, such as GFAR and APAARI.

Dr Dar represented the Alliance of the CGIAR Centers at the global conferences of both GFAR and APAARI organized at New Delhi recently. At the GFAR conference he said that the CGIAR and GFAR must collaborate with relevant stakeholders to improve genetic resources management, natural resources management, commodity chains and policy management in geographical areas of mutual interest.

At the APAARI conference he said that the overall goal is help smallholder farmers to benefit from the improved value chain of agricultural markets. An enhanced public, private, people partnership (PPPP) can lead into the development of the three I's –incentives, institutions and infrastructure.

Dr Dar reiterated that the Alliance of the CGIAR Centers is committed to substantially contribute to the attainment of MDGs through science with a human face and strategic partnerships.

© by ICRISAT. All rights reserved.