Latin America and the Caribbean
According to the 2016 Global Food Policy Report published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the Latin America and Caribbean Region as a whole shows a general overall improvement, although food security conditions are troubling, especially in Central America and the Caribbean concerning overnutrition and related diseases that coexist with malnutrition present in some countries.
Latin America and the Caribbean is also the main net exporter of agricultural and food products, thus making the region a stronghold in two aspects of global food security: food availability and stability.
Keeping the double role as key supplier for global food security and environmental public goods in the long run requires an important investment in agricultural research and development, infrastructure, and governance of natural resources. Not making these investments could have large-scale implications for the world.
Facing this crossroads and having the fortune of being located in one of the most diverse regions in the world at an ecological and agricultural level, CIAT seeks to ensure that the whole planet benefits from the agricultural innovations developed in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as from the region’s overall potential.
This is how the Center develops and boosts its scientific work, strengthening even more its presence and close collaboration with partners in Colombia, its host country, Nicaragua, and Peru. In these three countries, CIAT focuses on its main objectives: promote agricultural productivity and increase nutritional quality of basic crops, and make smallholder farming more competitive and market oriented by improving value chains and being environmentally and sustainably adapted to climate.
This is possible through research for development, the creation of new public and private alliances, innovation with impact, learning through partnerships, and a strategic vision to increase the impact of research for development.
This is the way that CIAT focuses its efforts in regional ventures such as the joint initiative with the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) by working toward land restoration, sustainable livestock systems, and cocoa production, the latter being of special interest for Central America, Colombia, and Ecuador. At the same time, in partnership with the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF), CIAT seeks to replicate throughout the region the good results achieved in Colombia on sustainable agriculture adapted to climate. And, CIAT does not forget its close collaboration with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in developing activities such as support during the implementation of the Fund´s strategy in different countries and topics.
Since the 1980s, CIAT has been present in the region, building together with partners and collaborators a research agenda that responds to the needs and pressing challenges that smallholders face. The current focus topics in food security and nutrition are more productive and sustainable livestock, climate change, agro-ecology, and linking farmers to markets.
Between 1983 and 2005 and as a result of teamwork with partners in the region, CIAT achieved scientific impact such as the development of 16 cultivars of grasses and 10 of legumes approved in Central America and Mexico. The 22 varieties of rice from the genetic improvement program led by the Fondo Latinoamericano para Arroz de Riego (FLAR, Latin American Fund for Irrigated Rice) cover 60% of the planted area in Costa Rica and 44% in Panama and variety ANAR 2006 is the second-largest variety planted in Nicaragua, just to mention a few examples of what can be accomplished by working together with partners in the region.
Since its foundation on 17 October 1967, CIAT has maintained close collaboration with its host country, Colombia, thanks to the shared conviction that agricultural research is a key tool to generate technologies, methods, and knowledge that help farmers, especially those with limited resources, to achieve an eco-efficient agriculture that is competitive, profitable, sustainable, and resilient.
More than 90 improved varieties in four basic crops are the result of the joint achievements: rice (48), forages (11), beans (16), and cassava (18). They all help to strengthen food security and increase farmers’ family income. More than 5,000 Colombians among undergraduate, master’s, and PhD students and researchers have strengthened their knowledge through different training methods and a high-end technology bioscience platform, available to all, for a more competitive agriculture.
Two broad-scope national agreements strengthen cooperation bonds even more: the sustainable and competitive development of the Llanos Orientales (Eastern Plains) and the strengthening of the agricultural sector’s capacity to adapt to the effects of climate change.
The current post-conflict scenario is a unique opportunity for CIAT to support Colombia and its Colombian partners as an advisor and unbiased technical consultant, through strategic approaches such as taking advantage of applied research for rural development; capacity strengthening of the different actors in the territories; pilot implementations in strategic areas such as Cauca, Nariño, and Caquetá departments; follow-up and advice on different land development processes; facilitating linkage of new initiatives with the existing ones in the territory, such as the Peace Labs and national programs for Development and Peace; and supporting the rollout of rapid-response efforts in the post-conflict territories.
With a relatively fast growing economy, the following years will be crucial to supporting Peru in the sustainable development of its agricultural potential and natural resource management.
If not dealt with in time, the fast changes experienced in population growth, land coverage, and climate change could result in the stagnation of the economy and, eventually, in the proliferation of poverty and food insecurity.
The current research agenda focuses on three main priorities: landscape management (water and ecosystem services), policy analysis (deforestation and impact), and sustainable value chains (climate change, coffee, and cocoa). The goal is to expand the Center’s scientific work potential in the country, including additional research capacity through the development of innovative projects aligned with the government’s interests.
Latin America and the Caribbean | CIAT Blog Science to Cultivate Change
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