Building a Sustainable Food Future

CIAT in Review – 2017-2018



Building on 50 years of agricultural research for development

Message from the Board Chair, Geoffrey Hawtin and the Director General, Ruben Echeverría

President Santos of Colombia presents CIAT Board Chair, Geoffrey Hawtin, and Director General, Ruben Echeverría, with the National Order for Merit in the degree of Silver Cross during CIAT’s 50 anniversary celebration (Nov. 2017).

CIAT, building off 50 years of success in generating and strategically positioning knowledge to improve agricultural practices, reduce poverty and hunger, and improve human nutrition, continues to play a key role in addressing the world’s most pressing challenges related to agriculture, development, and the environment. During our recent 50th anniversary celebrations, time and time again, we heard our partners, supporters, and colleagues reference our ability to adapt and innovate. This is clearly a hallmark of CIAT’s approach to research for development.

At a glance

CIAT is one of the 15 CGIAR Research Centers

CIAT leads the following Research Programs and Platforms:


CIAT also contributes to: Forests, Trees and Agroforestry | Livestock | Rice | Roots, Tubers and Bananas.

CIAT's global presence




active projects

CIAT's collaborative research has generated 39 billion dollars in economic benefits in 50 years
Investments by CIAT and its partners (left columns) have generated high economic benefits (right columns). All figures are in 2011 US dollars
CIAT's genebank conserves and shares the world's largest collections of beans, cassava, and tropical forages

Bean varieties

Cassava varieties

Tropical forage varieties
A back-up copy of 94% of CIAT’s bean collections and 92% of its forage collections are also kept in the “Doomsday seed vault” at 120 meters of depth in a mountain of the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. The latest shipment to Svalbard was sent in February 2018 on the occasion of #SeedVault10.    
CIAT’s genebank sent 8,350 samples to 24 countries in 2017
Zoom in on the map to see more details.

Beans Cassava Forages Multiple
4236 varieties (7705 samples) distributed to 16 countries 54 varieties (66 samples) distributed to 6 countries 536 varieties (579 samples) distributed to 10 countries Any combination of bean / cassava / forage samples. Mouse over the bubbles for details.
CIAT released 11 new crop varieties in 2017

Beans Cassava Rice
4 varieties released to Guatemala, Nicaragua and Rwanda 3 varieties released to Colombia 4 varieties released to Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Panama
In 2017, CIAT generated 273 publications

Making the news


Two CIAT scientists, Louis Verchot and Ngonidzashe Chirinda, are among the lead authors of much anticipated IPCC reports

Dr. Louis Verchot, director of CIAT’s Soils and Landscapes for Sustainability Research Area, joined experts from 52 countries as a lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Climate Change and Land. Dr. Ngonidzashe Chirinda, CIAT soil specialist, is also serving as a lead author with a team of scientists working on a new methodology report that will refine the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for the National Greenhouse Gas Inventories. The refined guidelines aim to help countries meet their pledge to the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit the increase in global average temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The IPCC assessment reports are widely regarded as the most authoritative summary of the state of knowledge about climate change, its current and potential future impacts, and the possibilities for adapting to change and reducing emissions. Both the IPCC special report and the updated guidelines on national GHG inventories are due out in 2019.

CIAT's Julián Ramírez and Daniel Jiménez collect prestigious UN award at the UNFCCC's COP23

Dr. Ramírez and Dr. Jiménez received one of the prizes of the coveted 2017 Momentum for Change Lighthouse Activities from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) during an award ceremony at COP23 in Bonn, Germany. They received the prize in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Solutions category and represented a team of 30-plus researchers from CIAT and CCAFS, which works on ICT to benefit small-scale farmers. In particular, they develop climate and agricultural forecasts for farmers using big data techniques. This groundbreaking approach is known as climate services. Since 2013, the team has worked with government institutions at national and local levels, national growers associations, and weather agencies in Latin America, particularly Colombia and Honduras, to provide farmers with advice on which crops to grow, and if and when to plant. The farmers were then able to choose the action that best suited their needs. So far, this work has reached an estimated 300,000 farmers in the two countries.

CIAT’s Daniel Debouck receives highest recognition of Belgium for 40 years of scientific work

Dr. Daniel Debouck received in July 2017 the Order of Leopold, the highest recognition that the Kingdom of Belgium bestows. Dr. Debouck is the world’s expert in Phaseolus, common bean, germplasm. In his nearly 40 years of work, a large part of them as leader of CIAT’s Genetic Resources Program, he has collected 3,900 new varieties of flora in 38 expeditions through 11 countries of Latin America and has discovered 14 new species. Some of the species that he collected are new to science and are key to current and future breeding efforts. A species of bean was also named Phaseolus debouckii after him in “Phytotaxa,” a taxonomic journal. Dr. Debouck was the first to discover this species during a field expedition in Peru in 1989 and its uniqueness was confirmed recently. The name honors Dr. Debouck for his scholarly contributions, and extensive and systematic collections of wild and domesticated Phaseolus throughout the Americas. Besides his expertise in Phaseolus, Dr. Debouck is one of the leading technical experts in agrobiodiversity conservation.

Dr. Debouck also received in February 2018 the inaugural Crop Trust Legacy Award recognizing “global gatekeepers” of crop diversity.

Former CIAT board member Professor Ruth Oniang’o joint winner of 2017 Africa Food Prize

Prof. Ruth Oniang’o, former Member of Parliament for Kenya, and a leading advocate on nutrition in Africa, served as a member of the CIAT Board of Trustees from 2012 to 2015. She is co-winner of 2017 Africa Food Prize, jointly with agricultural entrepreneur Maïmouna Sidibe Coulibaly, from Mali. The duo received the award at the opening ceremony of the 7th African Green Revolution Forum for their outstanding contributions to agriculture and food production towards a sustainable food future in Africa. Working at different ends of agricultural value chains, their work has addressed multiple challenges to improve food and nutrition security across the continent. They will share the US$100,000 prize money.

Prof. Oniang’o, currently Editor-in-Chief and Founder at African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development (AJFAND), is recognized as a leading voice on nutrition. Her scientific research to advance agricultural productivity is matched with a deep understanding of the challenges farmers face, especially women, and she has worked with communities and policy makers to improve access to higher yielding crops and markets.

[Quick] Science and Partnerships Update

Brachiaria forage grasses can cut N²O emissions by 60%

We already knew that Brachiaria had the capacity to fix nitrogen (N) thanks to a compound released by their roots called brachialactone, which prevents the conversion of N into nitrous oxide (N2O) – a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide. The process is called biological nitrification inhibition (BNI), and it traps N in the soil in a form that plants can use as a nutrient. What we did not know is exactly how much nitrogen the grass could fix. An experiment involving spreading cow pee – which is naturally high in nitrogen – on patches planted to different types of Brachiaria revealed that high-BNI Brachiaria emitted 60% less N2O than the low-BNI plants. Trapping some nitrogen in the soil thanks to BNI could save farmers money on fertilizer, slash greenhouse gas emissions on farms, and improve the health of the landscape all at once. And while brachialactone is unique to Brachiaria, BNI is not. Scientists across CGIAR are trying to unlock BNI capacity in staple crops, including wheat and sorghum, with potentially significant global benefits.

DNA fingerprinting uncovers exactly who and why farmers use improved cassava

CIAT scientists recently used DNA fingerprinting, which analyzes the genetic characteristics or the unique identity of organisms, in this case cassava, to get a clearer picture of the adoption of CIAT-bred varieties and, ultimately, enhance advice to farmers on how to better manage their crops. Together with the Colombian Corporation for Agricultural Research (CORPOICA), CIAT has produced 16 improved varieties of cassava over the last 8 years. Researchers collected 434 stem samples from 217 farmers in Cauca, Colombia, and DNA fingerprinting identified 120 varieties, 9 of which were improved cassava varieties. The study revealed disparities in perceived and actual use of landraces versus improved cassava. Roughly 17% of the households surveyed said they were cultivating improved varieties, but DNA profiling discovered that about 9% actually did so. DNA fingerprinting allows us to better measure CIAT’s impact and will help improve dissemination strategies of improved varieties.

Nine lessons to guide policy makers and scale up climate-smart agriculture

Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) and its principles have gained much traction in the political sphere over the last decade. Yet implementing successful innovations on a wider scale across districts and even nations remains a challenge. In a new series of nine briefs published in 2017 by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), which CIAT leads, we explored successful CSA agriculture innovations, which deliver on the three pillars: productivity, mitigation, and adaptation, while addressing a myriad of complex factors underpinning climate science. Our lessons can guide decision makers and prioritize limited climate investments for maximum impact at least cost, targeting vulnerable groups. The lessons, gleaned through the “Increasing Food Security and Farming System Resilience in East Africa through Wide-scale Adoption of Climate-Smart Agricultural Practices” project in Uganda and Tanzania, are applicable globally and have already been used to scale successful practices to a wider set of beneficiaries. See the lessons

A new Forage Legumes Network in Asia helps sustainably diversify tropical crop-livestock systems

Researchers from eight Asian countries – Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, and Vietnam – gathered on 12–13 December 2017 in Haikou City, China, to form the Asian Forage Legumes Network. This is in response to the increasing pressure for farming systems in Asia to produce more without causing further harm to the environment. As soils deteriorate and become unable to provide the nitrogen that crops need, nitrogen-fixation from the atmosphere turns out to be very important in agriculture. And the most important nitrogen-fixing agents in agricultural systems are the symbiotic – mutually beneficial – associations between crop, forage legumes, and rhizobia – the nitrogen-fixing bacteria that camp inside the root nodules of legumes. In addition to fixing atmospheric nitrogen (N), intercropped legumes contribute to enhancing soil carbon content through the leaves and root systems that remain in the field after harvest. When used as green manure, multipurpose legumes help in mitigation of soil erosion by providing a better soil cover. Beyond facilitating soil health, when used as forages, legumes provide high-quality livestock feed. The network aims to further the understanding of and promote biological nitrogen fixation within the region.

Climate change and bee decline threaten coffee production in Nicaragua and Honduras

For the first time, a study looks at the relationship between coffee, bees, and climate change. We knew that rising temperatures and shifting precipitation patterns caused by climate change could reduce the suitability of lands for growing coffee in Latin America — the world’s largest coffee-producing region — by as much as 88% by 2050. But the study forecasts much greater losses in coffee suitability than previous assessments, with the largest projected for Nicaragua, and Honduras. This is because bees, which pollinate coffee, will be impacted by climate change as well, and their populations may decline even in coffee-growing areas likely to remain suitable for coffee. Without the services that bees provide through pollination, coffee yields will drop, and this will directly affect the incomes of thousands of vulnerable smallholder farmers and the coffee supply chain at large. The models created to make these projections are a valuable tool for informing policy-making and targeting appropriate management practices such as forest conservation and shade adjustment.

Using big data to shift food systems towards sustainable and healthy diets in Kenya and Vietnam

A new CIAT initiative funded by the Graham Sustainability Institute at the University of Michigan is using big data approaches to contribute to more informed decisions for improving the sustainability of diets. CIAT and researchers at the University of Michigan have defined sustainable diets as those that are “protective and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems; culturally acceptable, accessible, economically fair and affordable; nutritionally adequate, safe and healthy; while optimizing natural and human resources.” The initiative aims to generate insights into the policy process in Kenya and Vietnam, including by identifying potential policy levers that may be effective for shifting the food system towards sustainability. It will help us understand, from the consumer level to the regional level and all the way to the global level, how food is produced and how it ends up on the consumer’s plate.

CIAT and CORPOICA strengthen their cooperation in Colombia

International agricultural research centers such as CIAT have the mandate to build national research capacity in the countries where they work. Without such capacity among national research institutes, universities, producer associations, private sector, and others we won’t be able to achieve the ambitious impacts we strive for. In this spirit, the Colombian Corporation for Agricultural Research (CORPOICA, from its name in Spanish) and CIAT have built a successful partnership that continues to be strengthened over time. Under a subsidiarity principle (CIAT complements but does not substitute the local national agencies), CORPOICA and CIAT have been implementing joint research in Colombia and have recently created a shared program including visits and work sessions to build trust among their growing respective staff and ensure future collaboration. It is such joint efforts and cooperation that will bring about the full potential of research in Colombia.

More information:

CIAT launches regional knowledge hub to support climate change action in Asia

As an increasing number of organizations in Asia undertake initiatives to address the consequences of a changing climate, our knowledge about it and how it affects agriculture in various countries has become vast. But the challenge – especially for decision makers in governments, businesses, and development institutions – is how to sift through this information and ensure that their plans are based on scientific evidence that is relevant to them. The Climate Policy Hub addresses this by generating robust evidence for countries across Asia, to assist in policy development and investment decisions related to climate change adaptation and mitigation. The suite of services offered includes agro-ecosystem diagnoses, mapping and modeling exercises, and economic and policy analyses, to help put in place the most effective and cost-efficient actions.

Twenty-five percent crop yields increase in Africa possible by applying tiny amounts of micronutrients

A new study shows that adding tiny, ‘micro’ amounts of certain nutrients to the soil could boost crop yields in Africa by up to 25 percent. Plants need macronutrients – such as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous, often added in large amounts to soil in the form of fertilizer – to grow properly. Macronutrients can already almost double maize yields in Africa, according to the literature studied. But what new research shows is that, by adding micronutrients as well – nutrients needed in micro-quantities such as iron or zinc – yields could go up an extra 25 percent on top of that. Crops are becoming less able to absorb vital nutrients to grow, due to soil erosion or degradation – so adding blends of micro and macronutrients is one way to restore the balance. Now more research is needed to find out how, and where, the right nutrients can be applied to increase yields.

A new agreement will allow to collect water data for the sustainable management of the resource in Honduras

Honduras is the country with one of Central America’s largest water reserves. However, most of its watersheds show information gaps about supply and demand, which hinders the efficient use of the country’s water resources. An initiative of the Secretariat of Energy, Natural Resources, Environment and Mines (MiAmbiente+) and CIAT seeks to develop cutting-edge technologies and techniques for managing water-related data that can support integrated water management. The initiative aims to inform national decision- and policy-making, such as the implementation of the Master Plan on Water, Forests and Soils, promoted by the national government, which aims to establish productive landscapes using agroforestry systems. The results of the initiative will help guide investments from municipalities, national governments, and international cooperation agencies in water conservation and improved access to potable water and irrigation systems.

CIAT and India expand cooperation in South Asia

CIAT and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) signed a three-year work plan, setting in motion an expanded set of research and capacity building activities between the two organizations. ICAR is India’s top body for coordinating, guiding, and managing research and education in agriculture in the country. With 101 ICAR institutes and 71 agricultural universities, it is one of the largest national agricultural networks in the world. Under the new 2017–2020 work plan, ICAR and CIAT have agreed to expand the scope of collaboration by covering five key thematic areas: adding value to cassava; forages and livestock systems; agricultural landscapes and soil ecology; food systems and value chains; and climate change and ecosystem services.

The way to climate-smart agriculture

New climate-smart agriculture (CSA) profiles were published in 2017 for five Asian countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Philippines, as well as three African ones: Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique. The profiles summarize the challenges and impacts on agriculture in each country due to the changing climate, and list CSA practices, relevant policies, and financing opportunities for scaling up the promotion and adoption of CSA interventions along specific value chains and in different agro-ecological regions. The World Bank, for example, is developing a climate-smart investment plan in Bangladesh, where the CSA technologies identified in the country profile are being modeled for impact using national-level simulated production scenarios. Besides, if we are to reach the 2 °C maximum increase target of the Paris Agreement, emissions from the agricultural sector will need to be reduced by 1 gigaton carbon dioxide equivalent per year by 2030. Current interventions can only achieve 21–40% of this goal. The country profiles can also facilitate the transformative change needed in the agricultural sector.

PestDisPlace: A new app to track plant pests and diseases

Launched in 2017, PestDisPlace is an open source application that consolidates a range of information on pests and diseases of cassava, beans, rice, and forages to help locate on-going outbreaks. The app tells where a pest or disease has been reported and uses a color coding system to show if the reported outbreak has been officially confirmed, providing genetic information whenever available. The information also allows experts and government authorities to move swiftly and efficiently to combat the outbreak. Data currently come from observations in Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Cambodia, and Vietnam that have been cleared for public release by researchers from partner institutions. In the future, scientists want to create a network of laboratories that would upload their results in near-real time in order to improve communication to public agencies and other organizations responsible for responding to pest and disease outbreaks in crops. A smartphone version of the app is also under development.

Farmland soils as carbon sink – or how to remove 7 billion tons of CO2 from the atmosphere every year

New research shows that by better managing farmland soil, the amount of carbon stored in the top 30 centimeters of the soil could increase an extra 0.9 to 1.85 gigatons each year. This is equivalent to carbon globally emitted by the transport sector (1.87 gigatons); and equivalent to 3–7 billion tons of CO2, which could be removed from the atmosphere. The improved practices, among others, include, using compost or (green) manure, mulching, zero tillage, cover cropping, and other regenerative and natural climate solutions, such as agroforestry. But the question is: how can we unlock this potential. Whatever solutions we come up with for turning soils into carbon sinks, they need to be compatible with the realities of farmers. Carbon sequestration should boost farm productivity and efficiency without putting additional stress on farm resources, finances, or workloads of men and women. Paying farmers to manage their land better, or providing some kind of financial incentive will have to be an option if we are serious about meeting our climate targets.

Guiding food systems toward equality and sustainability

Breeding better crops

Super beans help ease the hunger of South Sudanese refugees in Uganda

How genebanks like Future Seeds can contribute to wholesome diets and a healthier future

CIAT research has generated 39 billion dollars in economic benefits in 50 years

Genome editing speeds up plant breeding

Enhancing resilience and sustainability

Climate-proofing agriculture: the case of coffee production in Vietnam and cocoa in Ghana and Indonesia

CIAT’s Terra-i, Cambodia’s ally to tackle deforestation

Influencing climate policy in Asia, by Godefroy Grosjean, Climate Policy Hub Leader

The Philippines and CIAT build up agricultural communities’ resilience to climate change

Tweaking Food Supply Chains

Cassava provides new economic opportunities in Central America

Making affordable and nutritious food available for the poor in Kenya and Uganda

Promoting food security and healthier diets

Eating high-iron beans improves memory and attention span in female university students in Rwanda

Setting the basis for healthier diets in Cali, Colombia

Understanding the changing global diet

Special Features

Is big data the answer?

Digitalizing agriculture to make it smarter

Special Feature

Despite its critical role, agriculture has lagged far behind other sectors in the development and implementation of digital tools.

A recent report by McKinsey found that, even in industrialized economies like the United States, the agricultural sector ranks 23rd out of 25 industries in digitalization, and the rate of adoption is slow. When it comes to low and middle-income countries, it appears that these innovations have an even smaller foothold.

If the agriculture sector is to overcome current challenges to increase productivity, adapt to climate change, implement environmentally sustainable solutions and, ultimately, achieve food security for the future, it needs to get smarter. It needs to get digital.

A new roadmap for CIAT in Africa

Special Feature

A new roadmap outlining CIAT’s strategic vision for Africa 2017-2020 was launched in 2017. It highlights the organization’s goal in the  region: To promote more productive, profitable agriculture and healthier diets at no environmental cost by providing a scientific basis for development investments and policies.

“While sub-Saharan Africa is undergoing rapid transformation, with intensification of agriculture on smaller plots of land and with urbanization affecting agricultural innovation in rural areas, the shift represents great opportunities for the continent,” said CIAT Director for Africa, Dr. Debisi Araba.

The roadmap builds on four themes to drive agricultural progress in Africa.

Making agriculture a key to lasting peace in Colombia

Special Feature

The armed conflict in Colombia, which lasted more than 50 years, gave rise to nearly 6.9 million internally displaced people, 87 percent of whom came from the countryside.

At the end of 2016, the Colombian government, led by President Juan Manuel Santos, and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP, its Spanish acronym) signed a historical peace deal. The final agreement includes a comprehensive rural reform as one of its thematic axes. Once Colombia achieves lasting peace, its annual economic growth rate is expected to rise by 1.1 to 1.9 percent.

The post-conflict scenario offers a unique opportunity for CIAT to support Colombia, its host country, by providing scientific and technical advice through various strategic approaches.

About CIAT

Progressing as an institution

A new solar photovoltaic system will supply 20% of CIAT's total energy

With the aim of reducing its environmental footprint and operational costs, CIAT launched in 2017 a solar power park for self-generation of energy, which will supply 20% of its total energy consumption in its headquarters.

A total of 2,820 photovoltaic panels were installed in a 14,400 m2 area, with a capacity to generate 902.4 kilowatts, which will allow to cut energy costs by 12%, a saving equivalent to COP$46 million per year (nearly US$15,000).

The photovoltaic cells are made of first- and second-generation materials, which make it possible for the system to tolerate high temperatures and cloudy conditions.

The solar system will reduce CO2 emissions by 496 tons per year, the equivalent of planting 1,774 mature trees.

“The inauguration of this long-awaited project gives us a great opportunity to promote sustainability in the use of energy in our own home. We hope to expand the initiative in the future and thus to be able to cover a greater part of our growing energy needs,” said CIAT Director General, Ruben Echeverría.

More information:

Focus on Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning

As the interconnectedness between food security and environmental sustainability increases, CIAT is committed to strengthening its ability to better predict future trends and relevant responses, and especially to track and demonstrate results.

Both are key to inform strategic programming and investment, and this is why in 2017 CIAT engaged further in foresight analysis and impact assessment.

Complementing those investments, and building on established monitoring methods, tools and experiences in CGIAR, the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Team at CIAT worked with the different programs to explicitly outline their theory of change as a way to understand and discuss the relationship between the intended impact, the research we produce with our partners, and its results.

A simple and user-friendly programmatic reporting and knowledge management tool called CIAT-MARLO (Managing Agricultural Research for Learning and Outcomes) will help gather and integrate the information. MARLO will provide the basis for better program management and be instrumental in strengthening the inherent culture of learning within the Center, to reflect, talk about successes and failures, document lessons learned, and enable us to adjust plans so that we continuously improve the quality of CIAT’s programs and its performance.

Managing intellectual assets at CIAT

Everything that we discover, generate, create, or produce using our intellect at CIAT or that is sponsored by CIAT as part of research, development, training, or dissemination activities is called intellectual assets.

Reflecting on it, our intellectual assets are what bread rolls and cakes are to a bakery – they are the very core of our organization. CIAT is structured to generate intellectual assets that, if properly managed, can help meet our goal of enabling farmers to enhance eco-efficiency in agriculture and contributing to building a sustainable food future.

The key is then how to properly manage our intellectual assets to achieve our goals. A crucial element in all of our endeavors is partners, and the outputs and ultimately outcomes that CIAT can attain through working with them. If we consider and define early on in our collaborative undertakings the types of assets and the terms that will apply to the use of those assets that we and our prospective partners will contribute, as well as the terms that will apply to the use of the resulting goods, during the life of a project and after it ends, we would be establishing the foundations for an impact pathway. Our success rate on achieving positive outcomes and, in the end, the desired impact will depend on how well we establish the “give and take” norms that take place in a collaborative undertaking and on their ability to contribute to the people we seek to benefit.

Intellectual property is the tool we use at CIAT to frame the norms for managing the intellectual assets in our collaborative work. In following and adapting CGIAR policies and principles, in 2017 and 2018 we have devised and put into operation internal policies and roadmaps that guide aspects such us benchmark terms to engage with the private sector in R&D and dissemination (R&D2) efforts and how to disseminate our information products, taking into account aspects such as authorship. Working closely with, for instance, CIAT’s Grants Office, we make sure that our plans for the management of intellectual property in the submitted proposals are according to donors’ expectations and our organization’s values. Teaming up with the Project Management Office, we evaluate the terms proposed by donors and agreements with project-related partners and amend as necessary in a way that CIAT may generate the expected results, keep doing R&D building on the deliverables achieved, and be able to disseminate them to generate the envisioned benefits. We do the same when researchers come to us asking for a draft of specific agreements for particular purposes. We also assist researchers in the project implementation process. Intellectual property management is a constant throughout a project life cycle, and it continues when the project ends or transforms into another one.

In the future, we see dissemination and adoption of intellectual property management tools through the entire organization as a crucial activity, in a way that researchers embrace such tools and put them in operation in their R&D2 endeavors for the ultimate benefit of farmers in the tropics.

Wrapping up #CIAT50

In 2017, CIAT celebrated 50 years of agricultural research and development impact. Throughout 2017, the Center acknowledged the amazing people behind its achievements, its hundreds of partners around the world, and its donors, without which none of this would be possible.

But CIAT also looked forward at emerging challenges and opportunities. Particularly, during the #CIAT50 celebrations held around the world, we took note of the excellent comments and suggestions made by our staff, partners and collaborators. This has motivated us to begin to chart novel research-for-development pathways forward, and reaffirmed our commitment to feed the planet, and offer a better deal for both farmers and consumers.

#CIAT50 has been:

Regional events

A full-fledged written history

A new roadmap for CIAT in Africa


Visions of a sustainable food future






Twitter impressions

Media clips

Thousands of photos

Dozens of


Our top pick for 2017



<script type='text/javascript' src=''></script>
These Altimetric donuts provide colorful visualization of the type and level of attention received by publications online.

Imbach, P., Fung, E., Hannah, L., Navarro-Racines, C. E., Roubik, D. W., Ricketts, T.H., Harvey, C.A., Donatti, C. I., Läderach, P., Locatelli, B., Roehrdanz, P.R.. 2017. Coupling of pollination services and coffee suitability under climate change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. National Academy of Sciences, 1-5 p.

CGSpace link:

<div data-badge-popover="right" data-badge-type="medium-donut" data-doi="10.1073/pnas.1617940114" data-hide-no-mentions="true" class="altmetric-embed"></div>

Zomer, R. J., Bossio, D., Sommer, R., Verchot, L.V., 2017. Global Sequestration Potential of Increased Organic Carbon in Cropland Soils. Scientific Reports. 7: 15554.

CGSpace link:

<div data-badge-popover="right" data-badge-type="medium-donut" data-doi="10.1038/s41598-017-15794-8" data-hide-no-mentions="true" class="altmetric-embed"></div>

Gomez Selvaraj, M., Ishizaki, T., Valencia, M., Ogawa, S., Dedicova, B., Ogata, T., Yoshiwara, K., Maruyama, K., Kusano, M., Saito, K., Takahashi, F., Shinozaki, K., Nakashima, K., Ishitani, M., 2017. Overexpression  of  an  Arabidopsis  thaliana  galactinol  synthase  gene  improves  drought tolerance in transgenic rice and increased grain yield in the field. Plant Biotechnology Journal .1-38 p.

CGSpace link:

<div data-badge-popover="right" data-badge-type="medium-donut" data-doi="10.1111/pbi.12731" data-hide-no-mentions="true" class="altmetric-embed"></div>

Campbell, B.M, Beare, D., Bennett, E.M., Hall-Spencer, J.M., Ingram, J., Jaramillo, F., Ortiz, R., Ramankutty, N., Sayer, J.A., Shindell, D. 2017. Agriculture production as a major driver of the Earth system exceeding planetary boundaries. Ecology and Society. Resilience Alliance Publications, 22(4): 8.

CGSpace link:

<div data-badge-popover="right" data-badge-type="medium-donut" data-doi="10.5751/ES-09595-220408" data-hide-no-mentions="true" class="altmetric-embed"></div>

Gumbricht, T., Roman-Cuesta, R.M., Verchot, L., Herold, M., Wittmann, F., Householder, E., Herold, N., Murdiyarso, D., 2017. An expert system model for mapping tropical wetlands and peatlands reveals South America as the largest contributor. Global Change Biology.  23(9): 3581-3599.

CGSpace link:

<div data-badge-popover="right" data-badge-type="medium-donut" data-doi="10.1111/gcb.13689" data-hide-no-mentions="true" class="altmetric-embed"></div>

Murray-Kolb, L.E., Wenger, M.J., Scott, S.P., Rhoten, S.E., Lungaho, M., Haas, J.D. 2017. Consumption of Iron-Biofortified Beans Positively Affects Cognitive Performance in 18- to 27-Year-Old Rwandan Female College Students in an 18-Week Randomized Controlled Efficacy Trial. The Journal of Nutrition. American Society for Nutrition, 1-9 p.

CGSpace link:

<div data-badge-popover="right" data-badge-type="medium-donut" data-doi="10.3945/jn.117.255356" data-hide-no-mentions="true" class="altmetric-embed"></div>

Zimmerer, K.S., De Haan, S.,. 2017. Agrobiodiversity and a sustainable food future. Nature Plants.  3: 17047.

CGSpace link:

<div data-badge-popover="right" data-badge-type="medium-donut" data-doi="10.1038/nplants.2017.47" data-hide-no-mentions="true" class="altmetric-embed"></div>

Kissling, W. D., Ahumada, J.A, Bowser, A., Fernandez, M., Fernández, N., García, E.A., Guralnick, R.P., Isaac, N., Kelling, S., Los, W., McRae, L., Mihoub, J.B., Obst, M., Santamaria, M., Skidmore, A.K., Williams, K. J., Agosti, D., Amariles, D., Arvanitidis, Ch., Bastin, L., De Leo, F., Egloff, W., Elith, J., Hobern, D., Martin, D., Pereira, H.M., Pesole, G., Peterseil, J., Saarenmaa, H., Schigel, D., Schmeller, D.S., Segata, N., Turak, E., Uhlir, P.F., Wee, B., Hardisty, A.R. 2017. Building essential biodiversity variables (EBVs) of species distribution and abundance at a global scale. Biological Reviews 1-26 p.

CGSpace link:

<div data-badge-popover="right" data-badge-type="medium-donut" data-doi="10.1111/brv.12359" data-hide-no-mentions="true" class="altmetric-embed"></div>

Financial highlights

2017 marked a significant milestone for CIAT as the Center celebrated its 50th anniversary. Special events were held in Hanoi, Nairobi, Managua, and Cali to commemorate five decades of collaborative agricultural research for development, together with our numerous partners and donors around the world.

Colombia, CIAT’s primary host country, made noteworthy contributions to the Center. President Santos attended the celebrations in Cali and reiterated Colombia’s commitment to support CIAT’s new genetic resources center Future Seeds with a disbursement of 10 billion pesos, equivalent to approximately US$3 million. Colombian foundation Mario Santo Domingo committed US$500,000 to Future Seeds too, trailblazing for a budding philanthropic sector in the country.

President Santos also awarded CIAT with the National Order for Merit in the degree of Silver Cross, the highest recognition an international organization can receive in Colombia.

An updated assessment of CIAT’s collaborative impact revealed that the total economic benefits generated mostly by the adoption of improved crop varieties stood at a remarkable US$40 billion over 50 years. To help guide both its strategic programming and investment, CIAT is committed to providing more evidence of its impact in other areas, namely natural resource management, food systems, and policy incidence.

In December, HarvestPlus was awarded a US$15-million grant from the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change challenge for its work on one of the world’s greatest problems: hidden hunger. HarvestPlus will use the grant to scale up its operations and the delivery of biofortified seeds, ensuring that more communities will forever have access to crops that are more nutritious, resilient, and high yielding.

CIAT’s total revenues in 2017 reached US$84.5 million against US$94.5 million in 2016, a reduction equivalent to 11% explained by a decrease of 27% in Windows 1 & 2 (CGIAR) and 8% in Window 3 funding, and an increase of 15% in bilateral funding.

Despite the total revenue decrease, the daily rate of expenditure (burn rate) remains almost at the same level as of the end of 2016 (193 in 2017 vs 192 in 2016). This is in part explained by the fact that the CGIAR collaboration costs, which are excluded from the computation of the daily cost, suffered the largest reduction, 40% compared to 2016. In terms of adequacy of reserves, CIAT ended the year with 123 days of reserves which represents a loss of 9 days compared to 2016 but remains above the CGIAR recommended minimum of 75–90 days.

As CGIAR funding via Windows 1 and 2 remains uncertain, CIAT has successfully been seeking alternative sources through bilateral agreements. CIAT has strong organizational, scientific, and financial foundations upon which to pursue new research directions and partnerships over the next decade.

Building on fifty years of experience, CIAT will remain committed to producing independent scientific research that policy makers and farmers can use to boost the productivity, competitiveness, and sustainability of farming. In short, the Center will continue to demonstrate the enormous potential of its science in helping achieve a sustainable food future for all.

  2017 2016
Grant revenue    
Window 1 & 2 (CGIAR)   29,965   40,944
Window 3   28,985   31,388
Bilateral   25,258   21,903
Total grant revenue   84,208   94,235
Other revenue and gains        305        243
Total revenue   84,513   94,478
Expenses and Losses    
Research expenses   52,844   49,888
CGIAR collaborator expenses   14,107   23,007
Non-CGIAR collaborator expenses   12,624   15,242
General and administration expenses     7,594     7,689
Total expenses and losses   87,169   95,826
Operating surplus/(deficit)    (2,656)   (1,348)
Gain/(loss) on sale of assets        (94)         85
Other non-operational costs       (972)         35
Finance income     1,131     1,133
Finance expenses        (36)      (179)
Surplus/(deficit) for the year    (2,627)      (274)

Donors and Partners

We are grateful to all the organizations who have supported our efforts to build a sustainable food future since 1967 and enabled CIAT to advance our objectives to reduce hunger and poverty, and improve human nutrition in the tropics. CIAT’s research is made possible by the multi-donor CGIAR Fund as well as by grants from many organizations, some of which are also Fund donors.


  • Administrative Department of Science, Technology and Innovation (Colciencias), Colombia
  • Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)
  • Corporation for the Sustainable Development of La Macarena Special Management Area (CORMACARENA), Colombia
  • Dow AgroSciences, USA
  • German Development Bank (KFW)
  • Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)
  • Irish Aid
  • People’s Republic of China
  • Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)
  • The World Bank
  • Autonomous Regional Corporation of Valle del Cauca (CVC), Colombia
  • DuPont Pioneer, USA
  • Federal Government of Mexico
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
  • Howard G. Buffett Foundation, USA
  • International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada
  • Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS)
  • Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (MINAGRI), Peru
  • Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MALF), Kenya
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Norway
  • Mondelez Europe GmbH (MDLZ)
  • Monsanto Fund, USA
  • Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD)
  • Solidaridad, The Netherlands
  • UK Department for International Development (DfID)
  • United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
  • United States Department of State (USDS)
  • UTZ Certified, Netherlands
  • Austrian Development Agency (ADA)
  • Bayer S.A., Colombia
  • Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA)
  • Catholic Relief Services (CRS), USA
  • Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences (CATAS)
  • Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE), USA
  • Directorate of Agricultural Science and Technology (DICTA), Honduras
  • Ford Foundation, USA
  • French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA)
  • Global Environment Facility (GEF)
  • Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI)
  • Global Village Project-Association, Nicaragua
  • Heifer International, USA
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  • Ingredion Incorporated, USA
  • International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC)
  • ITAD Limited, UK
  • Kingdom of Thailand
  • National Science Foundation (NSF), USA
  • Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), UK
  • Nutrition Research Institute (IIN), Peru
  • Public Enterprises of Medellín (EPM), Colombia
  • Regional Fund for Agricultural Technology (FONTAGRO)
  • Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA)
  • Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)
  • Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)
  • Syngenta, Switzerland
  • Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA)
  • The Nature Conservancy (TNC), USA
  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
  • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), USA
  • United Way Worldwide (UWW)
  • World Coffee Research (WCR)

CIAT in Review 2017-2018