Africa / Agriculture / Asia / CGIAR / Directorate / ILRI / Latin America / Research

A new CGIAR waits for donors to come through with promised funds

Jonathan Wadsworth, head of the CGIAR Fund

Jonathan Wadsworth, formerly of the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and newly appointed executive director of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Fund, at a meeting of the CGIAR Transition Management Team in Penang, Malaysia, in 2009 (picture credit: ILRI/MacMillan).

The prestigious American science journal Science has published today (4 February 2011) an update on progress of ongoing reforms of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), to which the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and 14 other centres belong.

‘Midway through a reform process intended to reinvigorate research efforts and boost financial support, scientists and administrators involved in the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) say the effort is bearing fruit. Its new central fund named an executive director last week: Jonathan Wadsworth of the U.K. Department for International Development. Leaders of the 15 centers say cooperation is growing, but they are also wondering what has happened to the promised money. . . .

‘Last April, the centers formed a new legal entity—the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers—intended to set systemwide priorities, particularly for a number of major research themes, and be the primary window for funding. The donors, meanwhile, joined forces in the CGIAR Fund, which they hope will provide stable, long-term financing. The consortium secretariat, temporarily set up in Rome, will be based in Montpellier, France. The fund is headquartered in the offices of the World Bank in Washington, D.C. . . .

‘There is a hitch. CGIAR leaders wanted $98 million in funding for 2011, and so far they are still $10 million short. . . .

‘Some donors have increased support, partly to stimulate management reform . . . , but others . . . have not yet come through.

‘They may be waiting to see more pieces of the puzzle in place, says Carlos Seré, director general of the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi. Only two of several expected major research themes, called CGIAR Research Programs, have been defined: the one on rice and another on climate change and agriculture. The parties have yet to agree on a strategy and results framework that will be the key mechanism for setting objectives and assessing results. “We hope the approval of the [framework] will trigger more commitment,” Seré says.

‘It is early to evaluate progress, Wadsworth says, but he remains optimistic, partly because food security is getting increased attention. . . .

‘Julian Alston, an agricultural economist at the University of California, Davis, says numerous studies indicate that the unprecedented growth in agricultural productivity seen in the second half of the 20th century “was enabled primarily by agricultural research.” Since 1990, productivity gains have slowed substantially as support for agricultural R&D sagged, he says. Food prices are likely to rise unless there is a significant R&D-led revival of productivity growth.

Read the whole article in Science: With reforms under way, international centers ask: Where is the money?, 4 February 2011.

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