Forever Pioneers

50 Years Contributing to a Sustainable Food Future… And Counting

About the book

Until now, a written history of CIAT had not been produced, and the closest attempt were the papers presented at the 30th anniversary celebration, which focused on the early development of the Center.

The 50th anniversary offers an opportunity to fill this void. But what makes up the history of an institution, particularly a research institution? It must start with the ideas and the context that went into its initial design and then examine how the organization adapted, changed, and evolved in relation to a dynamic external environment.

The first section of this history of CIAT charts its birth and evolution, and how it responded to a changing external context, the changes and various reforms of CGIAR, and the agricultural development context within which CIAT operates and which defines its mission. This context has changed radically over the last 50 years and varies significantly by region. Similarly, global development agendas have also evolved, impacting the funding environment.

The second section is a survey of the individual research programs – the main components of a research center. These have not remained constant over time; some have expanded or contracted, others were simply a cluster of research themes. At one time when there were financial constraints and a shift to project funding, programs even disappeared completely in favor of project clusters. Nevertheless, there is a certain coherence across program structures that has been maintained, and research programs are used to chart CIAT’s achievements and to identify innovative lines of research.

The final section was written in close consultation with the current Director General, Ruben Echeverría, and builds on these historical foundations to project the future development of the Center.

About the authors

John Lynam, a citizen of the United States, was the economist in the Cassava Program at CIAT from 1977 to 1988. He then joined the Rockefeller Foundation, and managed their Agricultural Sciences Program in Nairobi, Kenya, until 2004. He currently serves as Chair, Board of Trustees, World Agroforestry Center.

Derek Byerlee, a citizen of Australia, has held senior positions at Michigan State University, USA, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico and South Asia, and in the World Bank, where he was the lead author of the World Development Report 2008: Agriculture for Development. He also writes extensively on agricultural history.

The summary of the book was prepared by Stefanie Neno, Communications Manager at CIAT.


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