Nacikgoz

Intellectuals unfortunately are dwelling upon two very important issues, agricultural and food, which concern our future highly. On the other hand the press does seem to not show any necessary attention either. How many of us can answer these questions “How the doubled world population from 1960 to 2010 have been fed”? How much do we know about CGIAR, who is struggling with its whole facilities to overcome hunger crisis in future, in shrinking cultivated area, climate change, increasing population conditions? Some of us may be familiar with IRRI (International Rice Research Institute Philippines), (golden rice adventure!) or CIMMYT (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre, Mexico). There are total 15 similar agricultural research institutes gathered under CGIAR (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) umbrella. Its researchers did not only increased world wheat yield from 100 kg/da (in 1960) to 300 kg/da in 2010, but they also brought one Nobel and numerous World Food Prize to their agricultural research community. They have developed new varieties for almost all agricultural ecologies and determined their agronomic parameters like water, fertilizers and pesticides. Three-fold yield increase of wheat, within the last 50 years is “GREEN REVALUATION’s” result, could be applied to all crops. Behind such success, there was a hidden hero: little-known CGIAR.
Each of the above-mentioned 15 institutes focused on either specific agro ecological zones and/or main culture plants like wheat, rice, and potato. For example, ICRISAT, in Hyderabad (India) focused on breeding and cultivation techniques of non-irrigated plants, like sorghum. IITA is operating since 1967 in Ibadan, (Niger-Africa) entirely with crops grown in tropical conditions. CIP (Centro Internacional de la Papa – International Potato Center) in Lima, Peru undertake research on potato. International Food Policy Research Institute – IFPRI, one of CGIAR institute founded in Washington, is working on economics and politics of food and agriculture.
CGIAR has a specific financial support system, regulated by FUND COUNCIL, which arrange currency flow from FUND DONORS. Countries, NGO’s, banks, foundation may be a fund donor (with a minimum of USD 100,000 a year), if they can be qualified by the FUND COUNCIL. Fund donors may decide to orient their contribution toward a specific institute or research them. Allocations of funds to institute are arranged by CGIAR Consortium, who also develop, manage and monitor research programs run by its institute.
Organization is particularly keen to protect the biodiversity. Almost 710.000 accessions have been preserved in its partners 11 gene banks. Additionally CGIAR institutes maintaining germplasm, particularly seeds (including multiplication) of culture plants for Svalbard Global Seed Bank (Norway). New varieties, improved by its institutions are also free of plant breeding right.
CGIAR’s institutes are also focused along with many other organizations to “Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Safety” project. As the necessity of fight with “Hidden hunger” comes into question, FAO and WHO have consulted to CGIAR for the solution. Biological enrichment (BIOFORTIFIDE) of local varieties with vitamin and/or mineral through classical plant breeding techniques was the answer. Upon some financial and scientific debate, CGIAR has started with “HarvestPlus Challenge ” program. CGIAR began the international “HarvestPlus Challenge” program in 2004 and has been improved within the unexpected short time numbers of desired new varieties. For example, in Congo vitamin A-enriched cassava and enriched bean varieties, in Zambia vitamin-enriched corn varieties, in India iron-enriched millet and zinc-enriched rice varieties, in Uganda and Mozambique vitamin A enriched sweet potato varieties, in Bangladesh zinc-enriched rice varieties have been registered. In India and Pakistan registration of zinc-enriched wheat varieties are expected in year 2014.
But some of the CGIAR institutes are not performing in peaceful atmosphere. According to SciDev.Net news, armed Syrian rebel groups have occupied the main research station and headquarters of the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) near Aleppo in Syria. The armed groups are taking the majority of the harvested crops, grown in the centre’s research farm in Aleppo. Groups keep changing, and it cause difficulties for the local staff. Any arrangement or agreement they make with one group, may not be recognized by another one. In 2012, after damage to some of ICARDA’s property near its head office in Syria, the organization has gradually relocated its expatriate staff to Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, Ethiopia, Egypt and Turkey for safety and continuation of organizations operations out of Syria.
CGIAR and its institute with such a humanitarian activity, does not deserve such an unexpected transaction !
Nazimi Acikgoz
1. http://www.cgiar.org/our-research/challenge-programs/harvestplus/
2. http://m.scidev.net/global/r-d/news/syria-s-icarda-falls-to-rebels-but-research-goes-on.html
3. This article is summarized from a Turkish analyze, published in https://nazimiacikgoz.wordpress.com with the same title.

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