CIAT Annual Report 2018
CIAT Asia: institutional growth and climate resilience
Climate-resilient agriculture and sustainable food systems were the dominant themes in the portfolio for the year. We strengthened our South Asia presence through the establishment of a Delhi hub, which also serves as a pilot for our shared offices under the Alliance between CIAT and Bioversity International.
We launched novel research-for-development scaling platforms and business models. One was in collaboration with the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific to provide input on national climate policies. Another was with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for investment prioritization in the agriculture sector.
Meanwhile CIAT Asia assumed an even more strategic roles in the CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) as our Hanoi, Vietnam office was designated the regional coordinating hub for the CRPs on Livestock, Agriculture for Health and Nutrition (A4NH), and Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).
Our team leaders continued to strengthen collaborative relationships with key developing countries as key strategic partners. Direct funding contributions to CIAT from China, Philippines, Thailand and India enabled the Center to expand its operational presence in these countries, while also demonstrating the value-adding role of CIAT science to national programs and capacities.
CIAT-Asia expects to continue this momentum into 2019 with increased collaboration and presence in South Asian countries including Myanmar, and strengthened relations with key partners’ representations in the region.
Cassava Mosaic Disease in SE Asia becomes a regional priority
One of the big emerging challenges facing agriculture in SE Asia is cassava mosaic disease (CMD), which was first detected in 2016 and threatens a multibillion-dollar industry. To coordinate responses across the region, leaders met to discuss how to build a strategy to stem CMD’s spread. One starting point is understanding the complexity of the system where CMD can thrive – where 40 billion plants are placed on 3.5 million hectares every year without the infrastructure of a formal seed distribution system. Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet at CIAT’s gene bank in Colombia, research on the genetic traits of cassava continued to help build disease resistance and to make cassava mature faster in fields in both Asia and around the globe.
Vietnamese farmers adopt Climate-Smart Agriculture
Some simple steps can be taken to climate-proof farms, and a study in PLOS ONE by CIAT scientists in Asia examined which actions are the most suitable – and potentially the most profitable – depending on variable such as crops, environment and farmer preference for certain activities. It was an example of applied Climate-Smart Agriculture at its best, and showed the global scope of CIAT’s CSA research by including case studies in Africa and Latin America.
Technology advances for farmers, policymakers
Bridging the digital divide in agriculture is a priority for CIAT and our partners, and we lead or collaborate on projects across the globe that help close the gap. On the ground in Vietnam, we work with farmers on Internet of Things technologies to more efficiently manage their farms. From space, CIAT’s globally deployed Terra-i technology has provided real-time monitoring of forest cover to help inform better forest conservation action.
Microbial biotechnology platform launched in Vietnam
Sustainable farming requires efforts to better manage soil health, plant nutrition, cropping systems, and agro-ecologies. To help achieve this, CIAT Asia helped establish the Common Microbial Biotechnology Platform (CMBP) with a group of strategic partners. CMBP seeks to harness microbial biotechnology knowledge, methods and products, especially those tailored to smallholder producers.
Private sector is key climate change ally
When the private sector commits to a cause, it can move mountains. Addressing climate change is one such cause, especially for companies that market chocolate and coffee in Southeast Asia, writes Tiffany Talsma, a CIAT climate strategy specialist based in Vietnam. Her op-ed discusses how climate change poses a big risk to areas that grow cocoa in Indonesia, the largest producer of the crop outside West Africa and how CIAT projections of future climate suitability for cocoa predict fundamental changes in the characteristics of current cocoa climates. She also discusses Vietnam’s intensive coffee production and how the private sector is helping address climate risks facing these key cash crops.