CGIAR at Rio+20: Agriculture's Key Role in Sustainable Development
CGIAR highlights how its comprehensive research portfolio – worth $5 billion over 5 years – can improve the lives of the poor while protecting the planet
Farmer with drought-tolerant maize. ©CIMMYT
June 18, 2012 – “Agricultural research is essential to substantially increasing agricultural output and feeding the world’s growing population without damaging the environment, especially as threats to food security intensify under climate change, land degradation, and water scarcity,” said Jonathan Wadsworth, Executive Secretary of the CGIAR Fund Council, speaking in Rio at Agriculture and Rural Development Day (ARDD), which brought together more than 600 global experts to highlight the vital role of agriculture in sustainable development.
“CGIAR’s comprehensive research portfolio was specifically developed to deliver the scientific, policy and technological advances needed to tackle the major global development challenges of the century for the benefit of the poor and the planet,” he added.
Fifteen new research programs build on the CGIAR’s accomplishments over the past 40 years, including research on natural resource management that has helped to conserve water, renew soil fertility, and reduce erosion and greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously increasing farmers' yields. If not for the CGIAR's crop improvement research, millions more hectares of land would be under cultivation at the expense of primary forests and fragile environments.
Examples of potential impact from some of the new programs include:
- Climate change, agriculture and food security: Research will make crops less vulnerable to drought, flooding, salinity, pests and disease; reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and help cut poverty by 10% and the number of undernourished rural poor by 25%.
- Water, land and ecosystems: Research will provide sustainable irrigation to 12 million households in sub-Saharan Africa by 2020 and improve the incomes of 17 million smallholder households in rainfed and pastoral areas of Africa and South Asia.
- Forests, trees and agroforestry: After 10 years, research will prevent deforestation on 0.5-1.7 million hectares and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 0.16-0.68 billion tons per year, equivalent to taking 29-123 million cars off the road annually.
“CGIAR’s new portfolio taps unprecedented collaboration with a diverse range of partners to ensure that research translates into results on the ground,” said Frank Rijsberman, Chief Executive Officer of the CGIAR Consortium.
In addition to partnerships, significant attention is focused on gender sensitivity and capacity strengthening to ensure that research results empower women and poor smallholder farmers. Increasing the productivity of small-scale farmers, who provide up to 80% of the food supply in developing countries, is an essential part of the sustainable agricultural equation and a high priority for CGIAR.
“We need to create conditions for innovation and then invest so that innovation moves from the lab to the farmer's fields,” said Rachel Kyte, World Bank Vice President of Sustainable Development and Chair of the CGIAR Fund Council.
Rachel Kyte speaking at ARDD.
(Photo: C. Schubert, CCAFS)
When smallholder farmers have access to new agricultural technologies and crop varieties, they are able to get more out of their land, labor and livestock. Their families not only eat better and earn more money, but critical natural resources are conserved as well. In Rwanda, for example, farmers are growing improved varieties of climbing beans developed by CGIAR and its partners that produce up to three times more food on the same area of land than bush beans.
“Capitalizing on the CGIAR’s vast potential to reduce poverty, hunger and environmental degradation requires increased and sustained investment,” said Wadsworth. “Long-term funding is both critical and urgent. Lags between investing in agricultural research, adoption of new technologies, and making a difference in people’s lives are long, often measured in years, if not decades. We need to invest today to ensure future food security,” he emphasized.
Jonathan Wadsworth called for urgent action to fund agricultural research, including CGIAR’s research portfolio, which requires an annual budget of $1 billion. (Photo: C. Schubert, CCAFS)
- CGIAR Press Release:
Launch of Global Research Portfolio Worth $5 Billion over 5 Years
- ARDD Press Release:
Global Experts Convene to Discuss Agriculture's Role in a Green Economy
- CGIAR's Call-to-Action at Rio+20
- ARDD Communiqué