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Livestock veterinary research director to head new global research program on agriculture for improved nutrition and health

John McDermott John McDermott, currently deputy director general-research of the International livestock Research Institute has been appointed head of CGIAR Research Program 4, on Agriculture for Improved Nutrition and Health (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

Shenggen Fan, director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) announced on 6 Sep 2011 that John McDermott has been named as director of the new CGIAR (Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research) research program on Agriculture for Improved Nutrition and Health.

McDermott played a key role in the collaborative process to develop the program proposal. He is currently deputy director general and director of research at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and based in Nairobi, Kenya. He has worked in livestock development and animal and public health in developing countries for over 20 years as a professor, researcher, and manager and has been a professor of veterinary epidemiology at the University of Guelph. His main professional contributions have been in the areas of infectious disease control, quantitative veterinary epidemiology, and modeling of infectious disease transmission.

McDermott takes up his new position, based at IFPRI’s headquarters in Washington, DC, on 31 October 2011.

About the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Improved Nutrition and Health
The CGIAR has committed itself to ensuring that agricultural research serves the needs of the poor. Two urgent needs for the poor are better nutrition and better health. In its new vision, the CGIAR commits to reduce poverty and hunger, improve human health and nutrition, and enhance ecosystem resilience through high-quality international agricultural research, partnership, and leadership. This CGIAR Research Program, Agriculture for Improved Nutrition and Health, directly and strategically supports this new vision.

Agriculture will need to develop and expand to meet the food needs of a growing population from a finite resource base. How agriculture develops to do this can have critical consequences on the health and nutrition of people. This program is designed to support the overall CGIAR research agenda by improving our understanding and options for how agriculture can better accentuate the positive benefits and mitigate the risks of agricultural development on human health and nutrition. These lessons are meant to serve the entire CGIAR agenda, within agroecological production systems and along food value chains.

Emphasis will be placed on two populations of people. The first group is those people who are left behind by socioeconomic development, suffer from high rates of malnutrition and agriculture associated diseases, and rely on aid and development support. Research in the program will meet the demands of development implementers and investors for better knowledge, technologies, and learning approaches to improving their performance.

The second group is those poor people in dynamically intensifying and changing systems in which research can help shape agricultural development more positively and safely. This program will support policy- and decisionmakers and development implementers. Managing the benefits and risks of agricultural development on human health and nutrition are central to achieving the CGIAR-stated impact goals of poverty reduction, food security, and environmental sustainability for people in developing countries.

This program will work at the interface of the agriculture, health, and nutrition sectors. These are three critical pillars for development. For the ambitions of this program to be met, partnerships will be critical. Twelve CGIAR Centers and multiple partners from agriculture, health, and nutrition communities have actively participated in contributing to the development of this proposal through written contributions, stakeholder and partner workshops, and oral discussions. This program proposes a much closer partnership between the agriculture, health, and nutrition research and development communities than seen previously. New approaches to cross-sectoral work are proposed. While new, this program will build on past successes of CGIAR and partners working together on agriculture, health, and nutrition programs and seeks to complement a number of new international initiatives for improving agriculture-nutrition and agriculture-health integration and synergies.

Read the whole proposal for CGIAR Research Program 4, Agriculture for Improved Nutrition and Health.

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