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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%, 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—those who live on less than $1 a day—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.

·         Investing in agricultural research and development can dramatically change all that by increasing productivity, yields, incomes, and food and nutrition security while safeguarding critical natural resources.

·         When smallholder farmers have access to new agricultural technologies and crop varieties, they get more out of their land, labor and livestock. Their families eat better, earn more money, are healthier and more productive, and are better able to send their children to school.

·         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%, higher than most other development investments.




·         Working with hundreds of partners worldwide, the 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 in developing countries.

·         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 can be adapted to local needs and conditions.

·         Through its genebanks, the CGIAR holds in trust the world's largest and most diverse seed collections of crops and their wild relatives, as well as other plant genetic resources that underpin the 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.

·         The 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, a multi-donor trust fund for which the World Bank serves as trustee, finances research carried out by the CRPs. To receive 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.




Rice, or the Global Rice Science Partnership. 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.

Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security. Crops will be less vulnerable to drought, flooding, salinity, pests and disease, helping to cut poverty by 10% and the number of undernourished rural poor by 25%.

Dryland Systems. An integrated agro-ecosystems approach in dry areas will improve agricultural productivity, efficient use of resources, food security and livelihoods.

Policies, Institutions and Markets. Smallholders’ productivity and incomes will be increased by improving their access to inputs, technologies, markets, and public services through better policies and institutions.

Forests, Trees 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.

Aquatic Agricultural Systems. The dissemination of new technologies and knowledge will benefit 50 million poor and vulnerable people by 2022.

Wheat. Increased productivity will meet the annual food demand for an additional 56 million wheat consumers by 2020, and an additional 397 million people by 2030.

Roots, Tubers and Bananas. Food shortages and nutritional shortfalls will be reduced, and incomes will be improved benefiting 200 million people.

Livestock and Fish. Increased productivity will enable poor households to produce and consume more meat, milk, and fish, improving their nutrition and increasing, if not doubling, their livestock incomes.

Agriculture for Nutrition and Health. Research to breed high levels of vitamins or minerals into staple crops will improve the health of the poor and vulnerable, especially women and children. 

Maize. Higher productivity will meet the annual food demand of an additional 135 million consumers in 2020, increasing to an additional 600 million people by 2030.

Dryland Cereals. The sustainable production of barley, sorghum, millets, etc. will be increased by 15% on at least 45 million hectares in Africa and Asia, generating a direct value of $2.2 billion.

Grain Legumes. Yields will increase by about 20% 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. 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.

Integrated Systems for the Humid Tropics. The number of malnourished children will be reduced by 30% and 25% of poor households will be lifted above the poverty line over 15 years in targeted areas. 




For more than four decades, the 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. Examples of some specific results:

·         For every $1 invested in CGIAR research, at least $9 worth of additional food is produced in developing countries. Estimates of the overall economic benefits of CGIAR research range above $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% 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%, 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.

·         New rice varieties—dubbed “scuba rice” because they can survive under water for up to 17 days during catastrophic flooding—are saving vulnerable harvests and livelihoods across monsoon Asia. As floods worsen under climate change, scuba rice has the potential to benefit 18 million farming households and save millions more from hunger.

·         A food-for-education program for 2 million students in Bangladesh created benefits worth $248 million with the aid of CGIAR policy research.

·         In southern Africa, research on natural resource management has restored soil fertility, reduced erosion and enabled poor farmers to double their maize yields without the costs or risks posed by chemical fertilizers.


To learn more, please visit:

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


Updated September 2012




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