San Jose, Costa Rica, September 2, 2011 (IICA). The heads of four renowned international research centers have reached agreement with IICA on a joint work program, after accepting the invitation of the Director General of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, Víctor M. Villalobos, to discuss the matter at the Institute’s Headquarters.
News of the partnership was announced by the directors-general of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Rubén Echeverría; the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Thomas Lumpkin; the International Potato Center (CIP), Pamela Anderson; and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Shenggen Fan.
Following the discussions at IICA Headquarters on August 26, the heads of the five institutions decided to focus the joint work on four specific areas in which they have already been implementing projects of some kind: roots and tubers, corn, the integration of producers and markets, and climate change, agriculture and food security.
They also agreed to prepare a document on the operation of the alliance and draw up a work program, to be presented at the Meeting of Ministers of Agriculture of the Americas 2011, due to take place from October 19-21 in Costa Rica.
IICA’s Director General said that no single institution was equipped to tackle the challenges currently facing agriculture; the key to achieving results lay in pooling efforts. “The fact that we are complementary organizations is what made this partnership possible: IICA manages knowledge, which is generated in the research centers,” Villalobos explained.
The four organizations that will make up the partnership with IICA have a global and hemispheric presence.
Link between research and action
The heads of the research centers regard the partnership with IICA as a perfect fit, because decision makers will be made aware of the results of concrete studies related to the specific areas covered by the work program, so they have a real impact in the countryside.
“We need to devise mechanisms to ensure that research reaches the people who need it and that its dissemination is not limited to articles in scientific journals,” said Pamela Anderson, the Director General of the CIP, who regards the Institute as an important channel for reaching decision makers, as it is in constant contact with the hemisphere’s ministers of agriculture.
The Director General of CIAT, Rubén Echeverría, added that the partnership would make it possible to strengthen knowledge management and “attract new donors to mobilize more resources for research.”
The Director General of IFPRI, Shenggen Fan, said IICA would be able to help the centers establish priorities for agricultural research, “as it works on the ground in the countryside day in and day out,” while IFPRI could evaluate the Institute’s cooperation efforts in its Member States.
Finally, the Director General of CIMMYT, Thomas Lumpkin, pointed out that his organization wished to expand its work to include Latin America and that IICA, with its network of 34 offices in the hemisphere, could be a great partner. “Thanks to the Director General of IICA, we were able to strengthen relations with Mexico and we hope to do the same in the rest of Latin America,” he said.
This was the first time that the heads of the four international research centers had met with their IICA counterpart to identify common areas of work and join forces.
“What IICA brings to the partnership is its capacity to act at the hemispheric, regional and national levels, while respecting the agendas of each center,” Villalobos explained.
“It is not a question of one organization leading, but rather of finding areas for joint cooperation,” IICA’s Director General added.
During their meeting at IICA Headquarters in Costa Rica, the directors general expressed special interest in implementing projects in Latin America and the Caribbean. In a region that invests only 0.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) in research, it is important to promote agricultural innovations.
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