50 Years of Growth at CIAT
1967, CIAT is born
CIAT is formally established on October 17, 1967. Though formed in cooperation with the Colombian government, CIAT would function autonomously, governed by an international board of trustees. Dr. Ulysses J. Grant, a plant breeder and the Regional Director of the Agricultural Program of the Rockefeller Foundation in Colombia, is designated Interim Director. Grant, a man of both vision and action, is lauded as being the chief negotiator, promoter, and executer behind the establishment of CIAT.
1971, CGIAR is born
In May 1971, 18 countries and four organizations, convinced that agricultural science is a powerful tool to combat hunger, unite as the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (now CGIAR). Originally headquartered in Washington, DC, CGIAR starts as an informal association of countries, international and regional organizations, and private foundations in support of agricultural research. CIAT, IRRI, CIMMYT and IITA are supported as the original CGIAR centers. Over four decades, the number of CGIAR centers grows from four to fifteen.
1981, Expansion to African and Asia
Efforts are made to post staff in Africa and Asia, particularly for work on cassava in Indonesia and Thailand, and on beans in Burundi, Rwanda and Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). At this time, CIAT's long-range plan calls for significant increases in outposted staff and for an emphasis on decentralization through global networking and collaboration.
1992, Emphasis on sustainability
In conjunction with the 1992 UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, and responding to the growing realization that research aimed to increase food production must also contribute to the conservation of natural resources, poverty reduction, and the promotion of equity, CIAT launches its Resource Management Research Division. It makes a clear investment toward both sustainable development and gender equity.
1996, CIAT launches PABRA
The Pan-Africa Bean Research Alliance (PABRA) includes government research institutions, universities, and international research centers. It works with farmers, rural communities, NGOs, and other private sector organizations to increase smallholder access to improved and marketable bean varieties, new crop management techniques, and market chain information. Since 1996, PABRA has released over 550 new bean varieties across Africa, many of which have transformed beans from a subsistence crop to a cash crop - again, marking CIAT's focus on raising incomes of smallholder farmers.
1997, GIS pioneers
CIAT began experimenting with new, affordable Geographic Information System (GIS) tools in the early 1980s, a time when even rudimentary land use maps were considered revolutionary. Peter Jones, an agricultural geographer, pioneers this work at CIAT. By the late 1990's, Jones and his team create dynamic CD-ROM tools, layering different policy scenarios, population projections, climate data, and other parameters over geographic maps. Over time, these CD-ROMs have evolved into web tools such as Terra-i, which uses satellite data to monitor near real-time land use change Latin America, Asia and Africa.
2008, Safeguarding biodiversity
Under the auspices of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (IT PGRFA) signed two years previously, CIAT sends its first shipment of seeds to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in northern Norway. Buried in permafrost near the North Pole, the so-called "Doomsday Vault" aims to safeguard duplicate collections of seeds from genebanks around the world. In the event of conflict or natural disaster, seeds would be repatriated to countries to help them reestablish crop production.
2013, Opening access to research
CIAT views access to accurate and timely information as global public goods, essential to the worldwide effort to fight hunger and poverty. In 2013, CGIAR centers officially commit to making all research outputs Open Access by 2018. Opening research, including publications, products and raw data, ensures that more people can read and apply CIAT's research findings.
2015, CIAT endorses the SDGs
CIAT endorses the United Nations' new Sustainable Development Goals, the ambitious successor to the Millennium Development Goals. Six of the seventeen goals reinforce the global importance of CIAT's mission to pursue sustainable development on multiple fronts: poverty reduction, food security, universal health and well-being, decent work and economic growth, action on climate change, and the protection of life on land.
2017, CIAT co-leads CGIAR Big Data Platform
The ultimate goal of the CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture (2017–2022), which is co-led by CIAT and IFPRI, is to harness the capabilities of big data to accelerate and enhance the impact of international agricultural research. This 6-year will provide global leadership in organizing open data, convening partners to develop innovative ideas, and demonstrating the power of big data analytics through inspiring projects.
2002, Confronting Climate Change
Armed with evidence of our changing climate, CIAT establishes a program to investigate ways for farmers to respond to the situation. In particular, the Center's expertise in GIS and other modeling tools will be used to investigate how climate change will impact agricultural production in the future. In 2010, CIAT took the lead of CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Secyurity (CCAFS) under the CGIAR’s first 2010 – 2016 portfolio of Research Programs.