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The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)

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Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research





·         To meet the world’s food needs in 2050, food production must increase by 70 percent, even as threats to agriculture and food security intensify under climate change, worsening water scarcity, land degradation, fish stock depletion, and rising costs for food, feed and fuel.

·         Three-quarter of the world's poorest people depend almost completely on agriculture for food and income, but many cannot grow enough food to feed their families, much less to sell.

·         When children go hungry or are malnourished, they are far more susceptible to disease, their development is stunted and ability to learn is compromised, and their productivity is severely diminished in adulthood.

·         Spending on agricultural research can dramatically change all that, and safeguard critical natural resources. With more and better investment in agricultural research and development, we can sustainably and significantly increase agricultural productivity, reduce poverty, hunger and malnutrition while stepping up to the climate challenge.

·         Spending on agricultural research is not only effective at reducing poverty and hunger, it is also cost-effective, with rates of return of about 40 percent, higher than most other development investments.




·         CGIAR is the only global agricultural research body producing top-level science to meet the needs of poor smallholder farmers in developing countries. One of its priorities is to develop agricultural systems and landscapes that are high-yielding, carbon positive, climate smart, and resilient to drought, heat, flooding, and other stresses.

·         Working with hundreds of partners worldwide, CGIAR conducts research to reduce rural poverty, strengthen food security, improve human nutrition and health, and ensure the sustainable management of natural resources for the benefit of poor people across the developing world.

·         CGIAR produces global public goods—including improved crop varieties, sustainable farming methods, incisive policy analysis and new knowledge—that are freely available to all and adaptable to local needs.  

·         Through its genebanks, CGIAR holds in trust the world's largest and most diverse seed collections of crops, their wild relatives and other plant genetic resources that underpin CGIAR's vital breeding programs. The seeds—freely shared with research and development partners—are indispensable to future food security as they contain genes that confer pest and disease resistance and tolerance to heat, cold and drought.

·         CGIAR focuses on impact, gender sensitivity, and capacity strengthening across all of its programs to ensure that research results lead to measurable improvements in the lives of smallholder farmers and their families, empower and benefit poor rural women, and are replicable in developing countries around the globe.

·         CGIAR research is carried out by a consortium of 15 international agricultural research centers and their partners through CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) that currently require an annual budget of $1 billion.

·         The CGIAR Fund, is a multi-donor trust fund for which the World Bank serves as trustee, finances research carried out by the CRPs. Before receiving funding, programs must set out their expected achievements and provide verifiable targets against which progress can be measured and monitored. Linking funding to results gives donors better value for money and ensures that research translates into tangible benefits for the poor.



Dryland Systems

Policies, Institutions and Markets

Forests, Trees and Agroforestry

Aquatic Agricultural Systems


Grain Legumes

Rice, or the Global Rice Science Partnership

Roots, Tubers and Bananas




For more than four decades, CGIAR and its many partners have transformed the lives of hundreds of millions of people across the developing world through the impacts of agricultural research. The CGIAR’s success stories include achievements in boosting farm productivity, making marketing chains more effective and equitable, improving women’s access to technology, and applying greener approaches to pest management. CGIAR also generates climate smart solutions that deliver the triple win: increased productivity and food security, improved resilience, and increased climate change mitigation. Examples of some specific results of CGIAR research include:


For every $1 invested in CGIAR research, at least $9 worth of additional food is produced in developing countries. The overall economic benefits of CGIAR research are estimated at up to $120 billion, far exceeding the total investment.

·         In Southeast Asia, rice farmers harvest an additional $1.46 billion worth of rice each year thanks to high-yielding rice varieties, lifting farm families out of poverty and contributing to regional food security.

·         The selective breeding of Nile tilapia has produced a strain that is up to 80 percent more productive than local fish varieties, reducing poverty and hunger in several Asian countries where it is grown.

·         In eastern and southern Africa, drought-tolerant maize is improving yields by 20 - 50 percent, increasing the incomes and food security of millions of rural poor who depend on rainfed agriculture.

·         Through CGIAR research and partnership with the private sector, there is now a vaccine for East Coast fever, a deadly livestock disease that kills one cow every 30 seconds in 11 countries across Africa. That vaccine is expected to save more than a million cattle, with benefits of about $270 million a year.

·         Conservation agriculture, or no-till farming, has increased yields by up to 10 percent and incomes by $97 per hectare, with water savings of 20-35 percent and fuel savings of 80 percent per hectare. The practice also sequesters CO2 and reduces GHG emissions.

·         New rice varieties—dubbed “scuba rice” because they can survive under water for up to 17 days during catastrophic flooding—have saved the harvests and livelihoods of poor smallholder farmers across monsoon Asia. In addition to withstanding complete submergence, scuba rice increased yields by 1-3 tons per hectare.

·         In Africa, EverGreen Agriculture, the practice of integrating food crops with “fertilizer trees” that fix nitrogen in the soil, has resulted in significant benefits: improved soil fertility, increased rainwater use efficiency by up to 380 percent, sequestered up to four tons of carbon per hectare annually, reduced up to 3.5 tons of CO2 equivalent emissions per hectare per year, and increased crop yields, in some cases more than tripling maize harvests.



·         Rice. Higher rice yields will raise farmers’ incomes and lower prices, reducing how much the very poor spend on rice by $11 billion annually and lifting 150 million people out of poverty. Research will also reduce the number of malnourished people by 70 million and avert about 1 billion tons of CO2 equivalent emissions.

·         Climate change and agriculture. Crops will be less vulnerable to drought, flooding, pests and disease, cutting poverty by 10 percent and the number of undernourished rural poor by 25 percent while reducing GHG emissions.

·         Dryland systems. Agricultural productivity and production will increase by 20 to 30 percent in high potential areas and by 10 to 20 percent in low potential areas or on marginal lands, and 87 million people will have better and more secure incomes.

·         Grain legumes. Yields will increase by about 20 percent on at least one-fifth of the planted area by 2020, generating $3 billion in benefits, for a six-fold return on investment.

·         Water, land and ecosystems. By 2020, sustainable irrigation will reach 12 million households in sub-Saharan Africa and research will also increase the incomes of 17 million smallholder households in rainfed and pastoral areas of Africa and South Asia

·         Maize and wheat. By 2030, 33 percent higher maize productivity will meet the annual food demand of an additional 600 million people, and 21 percent higher wheat productivity will do the same for 397 million people.

·         Forests and agroforestry. Avoided deforestation on 0.5–1.7 million hectares will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 0.16–0.68 billion tons per year, equivalent to taking 29–123 million cars off the road annually.


To learn more, please visit:

Media Contact: Michele Pietrowski, +1 (202) 458-1712,


 Updated April 2013


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