Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Global research centers take on development challenges

A call was made by the CGIAR Consortium Board to link research outcomes to development goals such as food security, poverty alleviation, nutrition and health improvement, and sustainable management of natural resources during the board’s 13th meeting held last week.

Robert Zeigler, director general of the Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), said, "We need to make sure that CGIAR research is sharply targeted towards development outcomes.” IRRI hosted the meeting, held on 29 September-3 October 2013.

A good example of this was research on the SUB1 gene, which enables rice crops to survive flooding for up to two weeks. “I can tell you that when we started work on the SUB1 gene, it was not exactly a popular area to work in. People thought you are never going to have an impact on flooding. It was a high-risk investment,” Dr. Zeigler explained.

“We need to show how the upstream work we do will flow through the impact pathway and have a real contribution to sustainable development goals. That’s a challenge, but we think we can actually do that,” said Frank Rijsberman, CEO of CGIAR and ex-officio member of the Consortium Board.

“I think we’re much closer to doing that, not just at each of the centers but with the system as a whole. We can show for the CGIAR. That’s the contribution that agricultural research can make,” Rijsberman added.

“I think these all go well for the health of the system,” said Carlos PĂ©rez del Castillo, chair of the Consortium Board. “We have been able to see in the last few years a number of success stories coming from research outcomes such as scuba rice; the maize, beans, and cassava drought-tolerant varieties; biofortification; and others.”

About 40 CB members, center chairs, directors general, and staff of the CG Fund Office and the Consortium Office tackled other issues vital to the CGIAR system and its component research centers. These included a review of the CG governance system; a proposed open-access policy; and a progress report on gender programming and practice across the CG system.

The Consortium Board meeting also included a series of science sessions and a field tour at IRRI. Videos   

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