Global Farm Research Centers Reorganizing, Expect to Top $1 Billion

Following on a major structural reform last year, the $670 million Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) continues to reorganize the research efforts at its many centers into crosscutting programs. Meanwhile, donors worried about food security and global development—mostly foundations and developed countries—have been increasing their contributions by about 8% a year. If they step up to 12%, CGIAR will be on track to reach its goal of a billion-dollar budget by 2013, says Jonathan Wadsworth, executive secretary of the CGIAR Fund. "My impression is that the outlook is very good," he says.

The funding situation and research portfolio have been impacted by two big changes that happened last year. In April 2010, a CGIAR Fund was created to encourage governments and other donors to give unrestricted funds rather than provide grants for specific projects at particular centers. "The problem with the large number of individual agreements is that it is quite difficult to fit them together in a coherent way," Wadsworth says.

At the same time, the centers created a consortium to set 16 overarching research priorities.

"For the first time in 40 years, we're united around a common vision," says Lloyd Le Page, head of the CGIAR consortium. Five programs previously announced include rice, forests, drylands, maize, and climate change. Yesterday, the consortium announced six more:

Policies, Institutions and Markets ($265.6 million)

Roots, Tubers and Bananas ($207.3 million)

Agriculture for Improved Nutrition and Health ($191.4 million)

Meat, Milk and Fish ($119.7 million)

Wheat ($113.6 million)

Aquatic Agriculture Systems ($59.4 million)

These programs will total $477 million over 3 years, to be paid by the CGIAR Fund to centers from existing donations and pledges. Counting funds pledged to other partners, the six programs represent $957 million.

Kenneth Cassman of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, who chairs the consortium's Independent Science and Partnership Council, explained in an e-mail to ScienceInsider:

"The key point is that these new global programs start with defining the scientific issues of greatest importance to the goals of hunger and poverty alleviation, improved nutrition, and conservation of natural resources in developing countries. Once identified, each program develops a workplan to leverage global resources—including the Centers, national research programs in developing countries, research institutes and universities in developed countries, NGOs and private sector—to make measurable progress towards achieving these goals as efficiently and effectively as possible."