CIAT Annual Report 2018


Agrobiodiversity: Delivering the next generation of vital crops

Standard crop varieties do not always rise to the challenges of modern agriculture: climate change, nutrition, and higher productivity on farms. CIAT develops varieties of common bean, cassava and tropical forages (the plants livestock eat) that are superior. Because of the 68,000 accessions stored in CIAT’s seed bank, scientists around the world accelerate crop development to improve livelihoods, diets and farm resilience to climate change.

In 2018, CIAT’s Agrobiodiversity team and our partners made significant advances in our research agenda. We tackled crop disease in Asia and Latin America with cutting-edge on-the-ground research and by tapping into the power of satellite imagery to detect affected areas. We continued to develop and deploy improved bean varieties that have higher than normal nutrient content, withstand weather extremes and are highly productive. We entered into a variety of new agreements with partners in the public and private sector, and expanded our use of digital agriculture tools to improve the livelihoods of farmers.

Coordinated action to stem spread of cassava disease

Since its discovery in 2015 in Cambodia, scientists, farmers, and policymakers have closely monitored the advance of Sri Lankan cassava mosaic virus (SLCMV), which poses a significant threat to one of Southeast Asia’s major cash crops. Scientists at CIAT and collaborators are working to better understand this disease and breed SLCMV-resistant cassava. A high-level meeting last year brought together scientists and officials from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam to better coordinate efforts around this emerging threat. Separately, SLCMV figured in meeting of global experts convened by CIAT to discuss a global monitoring system for crop diseases. 

New collaborations across research areas

To increase impact and expedite delivery of research findings, the rice, cassava, forages and bean programs finalized new collaboration agreements with public and private institutions. A five-year agreement with Colombia’s rice growers association, Fedearroz, will fund joint work. The cassava program agreed to work with Ingredion, a U.S. food company, to develop waxy cassava. The forage program finalized a deal with Papalotla, a Mexican seed company, to commercialize hybrid Brachiaria, an environmentally friendly grass for cattle grazing. USAID funded the bean program under the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals. 

More biofortified beans for nutrition

New varieties of biofortified beans, which contain higher iron and zinc concentrations than regular beans, were released in Colombia and Panama. Jointly developed with Agrosavia, Colombia’s agricultural research organization, the new bean for Colombia’s Caribbean region is also pest resistant, drought tolerant and has a shorter cooking time than regular beans. The two varieties for Panama were developed with IDIAP, the country’s agriculture research institute, and were shared with 14 farmers organizations. These beans were developed with HarvestPlus as part of its global initiative to reduce micronutrient deficiency through improved crops. 

Joe Tohme
Director, Agrobiodiversity Research Area

CIAT is a CGIAR Research Center

Was edited and compiled by CIAT Partnerships and Communications

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© CIAT 2019