Logo of the CGIAR
Formation 1971
Type Partnership of funders and international agricultural research centers
Purpose To reduce poverty and hunger, improve human health and nutrition, and enhance ecosystem resilience through high-quality international agricultural research, partnership and leadership.
Headquarters Montpellier, France (CGIAR Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers)
Key people
Juergen Voegele Chair, CGIAR System Council;
Main organ
CGIAR Fund, CGIAR Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers, Independent Science and Partnership Council
Website CGIAR,[1] CGIAR Fund,[2] CGIAR Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers[3]
Formerly called
Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research

CGIAR (formerly the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research) is a global partnership that unites organizations engaged in research for a food secure future.[4] CGIAR research is dedicated to reducing rural poverty, increasing food security, improving human health and nutrition, and ensuring sustainable management of natural resources. It is carried out by 15 Centers, that are members of the CGIAR Consortium, in close collaboration with hundreds of partners, including national and regional research institutes, civil society organizations, academia, development organizations and the private sector.".[5] It does this through a network of 15 research centers known as the CGIAR Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers.[6] These research centers are spread around the globe, with most centers located in the Global South, at Vavilov Centers of agricultural crop genetic diversity.[7] CGIAR research centers are generally run in partnership with other organizations, including national and regional agricultural research institutes, civil society organizations, academia, and the private sector.

CGIAR is unusual in that it is not part of an international political institution such as the United Nations or the World Bank; it is an ad-hoc organization which receives funds from its members.[8] The membership of CGIAR includes country governments, institutions, and philanthropic foundations including the USA, Canada, the UK, Germany, Switzerland, and Japan, the Ford Foundation, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank, the European Commission, the Asian Development Bank, the African Development Bank, and the Fund of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC Fund). In 2009 CGIAR had revenues of $629 million.[9]

CGIAR's vision

The vision of the CGIAR is to:

Reduce poverty and hunger, improve human health and nutrition, and enhance ecosystem resilience through high-quality international agricultural research, partnership and leadership.

Strategic objectives

The CGIAR's vision is supported by four strategic objectives:

The Strategy and Results Framework[10] describes how CGIAR intends to work towards those objectives.

Brief history

The early years

The CGIAR arose in response to the widespread concern in the mid-20th century that rapid increases in human populations would soon lead to widespread famine. Starting in 1943, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Mexican government laid the seeds for the Green Revolution when they established the Office of Special Studies, which resulted in the establishment of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), in 1960 and International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in 1963 with support from the Rockefeller Foundation and Ford Foundation, developing high-yielding, disease-resistant varieties that dramatically increased production of these staple cereals, and turned India, for example, from a country regularly facing starvation in the 1960s to a net exporter of cereals by the late 1970s. But it was clear that these foundations alone could not fund all the agricultural research and development efforts needed to feed the world's population. In 1969, the Pearson Commission on International Development urged the international community to undertake "intensive international effort" to support "research specializing in food supplies and tropical agriculture".

In 1970, the Rockefeller Foundation proposed a worldwide network of agricultural research centers under a permanent secretariat. This was further supported and developed by the World Bank, FAO and UNDP, and the CGIAR was established on May 19, 1971, to coordinate international agricultural research efforts aimed at reducing poverty and achieving food security in developing countries.

The CGIAR originally supported four centres: CIMMYT, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). The initial focus on the staple cereals, rice, wheat and maize, widened during the 1970s to include cassava, chickpea, sorghum, potato, millet and other food crops, and encompassed livestock, farming systems, the conservation of genetic resources, plant nutrition, water management, policy research, and services to national agricultural research centers in developing countries. By 1983 there were 13 research centers around the world under its umbrella.[11]

Expansion and consolidation

By the 1990s the number of centers supported by the CGIAR had grown to 18. Mergers between the two livestock centers the International Laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases (ILRAD) and the International Livestock Centre for Africa (ILCA)) and the absorption of work on bananas and plantains into the program of the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI; now Bioversity International) reduced the number to 16. Later another center (ISNAR) was absorbed reducing the total number of supported centers to 15.[12]

The reduction from 18 supported centers to 15 was a much needed move, but it was not adequate to address key problems facing the Group. These problems, largely contributed by the expansion described earlier, included

1. CGIAR funders were overwhelmed by the demands of dealing with fifteen supported centers. These demands include activities like assessing a center’s priority, its direction, programs, capacity to deliver, evaluating and reporting.

2. Related to the above, some funders needed an instrument through which they could deposit their financial contributions and let the Group decide on how to allocate and track them.

3. The expansion of centers exceeded the capacity of the Group to support them all sufficiently. It also led to three classes of centers, complicating investment decisions. The three classes of centers can be summarized as follows: a. High impact delivery – essentially the original four centers b. Medium impact delivery – animal and dry land research centers c. Low impact delivery – the policy centers on food and natural resources.

4. The world had changed. For example, not only did the G8 countries no longer speak for donors, but many aid recipient countries like China, India, and Malaysia now had their own development agencies. Still more former aid recipient countries had developed a powerful class of agricultural scientists. To add to the flurry of good news, private donors and industries had also entered the scene in a big way and research institutions in the rich world were paying more attention to problems of the poor. However, the CGIAR did not embrace these changes in any effective way. It continued to work like it did in the past, only less efficiently.

Change was needed.

Reform in CGIAR

Seeking to increase its efficiency and build on its previous successes, CGIAR embarked on a program of reform in 2001. Key among the changes implemented was the adoption of Challenge Program as a means of harnessing the strengths of the diverse centers to address major global or regional issues. Three Challenge Programs were established within the supported research centers and a fourth to FARA, a research forum in Africa:


Since CGIAR was established there have been large changes in the agricultural research 'landscape'. Fluctuations in food and energy prices and in financial markets are adding uncertainty to the environment in which farmers and consumers operate. Climate change will have a wide range of impacts on agriculture, with changes in growing conditions for crops, livestock and fish and the pests and diseases that affect them. Droughts and storms are expected to increase in frequency and severity, undermining the efforts of farmers, foresters and fishers.[16] This will have a large impact on food security.[17]

In 2008, CGIAR embarked on a change process to improve the engagement between all stakeholders in international agricultural research for development—donors, researchers and beneficiaries—and to refocus the efforts of the centers on major global development challenges.[18][19] A key objective was to integrate the work of the centers and their partners, avoiding fragmentation and duplication of effort.

CGIAR components include the CGIAR Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers, the CGIAR Fund,[20] the CGIAR Independent Science and Partnership Council (ISPC)[21] and partners. Research is guided by the CGIAR Strategy and Results Framework.[22] The CGIAR Consortium unites the centers supported by CGIAR; it coordinates limited research activities of about fifteen research projects (See list below) among the centers and provides donors with a single contact point to centers. The CGIAR Fund aims to harmonize the efforts of donors to contribute to agricultural research for development, increase the funding available by reducing or eliminating duplication of effort among the centers and promote greater financial stability. The CGIAR ISPC, appointed by the CGIAR Fund Council, provides expert advice to the funders of the CGIAR, particularly in ensuring that the CGIAR's research programs are aligned with the Strategy and Results Framework. It provides a bridge between the funders and the CGIAR Consortium. The hope was that the Strategy and Results Framework would provide the strategic direction for the centers and the CGIAR Research Programs, ensuring that they focus on delivering measurable results that contribute to achieving the objectives of the CGIAR. However the research programs were designed prior to the Framework being ready, so now some refitting will have to take place to get the programs inline with it.[23] A biennial Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD)[24] provides a forum for closer engagement of developing countries and partners in developing and guiding the research and development agenda of the CGIAR Consortium and the CGIAR Fund. The first GCARD was held in Montpellier, France, in March 2010.[25]

The CGIAR Consortium was established in April 2010. It is based at the Agropolis campus in Montpellier. The CGIAR Fund was established in January 2010 and is based in Washington, DC.

CGIAR Research Programs

CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) are multi-center, multi-partner initiatives built on three core principles: impact on the CGIAR's four system-level objectives; making the most of the centers' strengths; and strong and effective partnerships.

The following research programmes have now been approved (lead centers shown in brackets):

Impacts of CGIAR

The impacts of CGIAR research have been extensively assessed, as demonstrated by a review article publishing in the journal, Food Policy, in 2010.[44]

Much of the impact of the CGIAR centers has come from crop genetic improvement. The high-yielding wheat and rice varieties that were the foundation of the Green Revolution were the beginning of a long line of successes. An assessment of the impact of crop breeding efforts at CGIAR centers between 1965 and 1998 showed that 65% of the area planted to ten crops addressed by the CGIAR—wheat, rice, maize, sorghum, millet, barley, lentils, beans, cassava and potatoes—was planted to improved varieties. Of this, 60% was sown to varieties with CGIAR ancestry (and more than 90% in the case of lentils, beans and cassava), and half of those varieties came from crosses made at a CGIAR center.[45][46] The monetary value of the CGIAR's investment in crop improvement is huge, running into the billions of dollars.[47]

The centers have also contributed to such fields as improving the nutritional value of staple crops; pest and disease control through breeding resistant varieties, integrated pest management and biological control (e.g. control of the cassava mealybug in sub-Saharan Africa through release of a predatory wasp); improvements in livestock and fish production systems; genetic resources characterization and conservation; improved natural resource management; and contributions to improved policies in numerous areas, including forestry, fertilizer, milk marketing and genetic resources conservation and use. The introduction of no-tillage systems in the rice-wheat systems in the Indo-Gangetic Plains, for example, generated economic benefits of about US$165 million between 1990 and 2010 from an investment of only US$3.5 million.[44]

Even the most conservative estimate of the measurable benefits of CGIAR research indicate US$2 in benefits for every US$1 invested.[48]

Members of the CGIAR Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers

Active centers and their headquarters locations
Active CGIAR Centers Headquarters location
Africa Rice Center (West Africa Rice Development Association, WARDA) Bouaké,  Côte d'Ivoire / Cotonou,  Benin
Bioversity International Maccarese, Rome,  Italy
Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) Bogor,  Indonesia
International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) Cali,  Colombia
International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) Beirut,  Lebanon
International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) Hyderabad (Patancheru),  India
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) Washington, D.C.,  United States
International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Ibadan,  Nigeria
International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) Nairobi,  Kenya
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) El Batán, Mexico State,  Mexico
International Potato Center (CIP) Lima,  Peru
International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Los Baños, Laguna,  Philippines
International Water Management Institute (IWMI) Battaramulla,  Sri Lanka
World Agroforestry Centre (International Centre for Research in Agroforestry, ICRAF) Nairobi,  Kenya
WorldFish Center (International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management, ICLARM) Penang,  Malaysia
Centers no longer active
Inactive CGIAR Centers Headquarters Change
International Laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases (ILRAD) Nairobi,  Kenya 1994: merged with ILCA to become ILRI
International Livestock Centre for Africa (ILCA) Addis Ababa,  Ethiopia 1994: merged with ILRAD to become ILRI
International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantain (INIBAP) Montpellier,  France 1994: became a programme of Bioversity International
International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR) The Hague,  Netherlands 2004: dissolved, main programmes moved to IFPRI


  5. Rice, Africa. "CGIAR". Retrieved 2012-07-18.
  6. Kloppenburg, Jr., Jack Ralph (2004) First the Seed: The Political Economy of Plant Biotechnology, 1492-2000, Second Edition, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press
  10. Establishment of CGIAR - see Mark Dowie, American Foundations: An Investigative History, Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2001, (p.114)
  11. "History of CGIAR / CGIAR". Retrieved 2012-07-18.
  12. "Research for Development > Water and Food Challenge Programme". DFID. 2008-11-14. Retrieved 2012-07-18.
  13. "HarvestPlus / International / S&T Organisations / Home - Knowledge for Development". Retrieved 2012-07-18.
  14. "The Generation Challenge Programme Platform: Semantic Standards and Workbench for Crop Science". 2007-09-22. Retrieved 2012-07-18.
  15. "Microsoft Word - main document3 ivan.doc" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-07-09.
  17. Yojana Sharma. "A revolution to combat world hunger". SciDev.Net. Retrieved 2012-07-18.
  18. "Browsing by Subject "CGIAR newsletters"". Retrieved 2012-07-18.
  20. "Independent Science & Partnership Council: ISPC home". Retrieved 2012-07-18.
  23. What is GCARD GCARD 2012 GCARD 2010 (2010-03-31). "What is GCARD". EGFAR. Retrieved 2012-07-18.
  24. What is GCARD GCARD 2012 GCARD 2010. "GCARD". EGFAR. Retrieved 2012-07-18.
  28. "European Commission : CORDIS : Go local : Member States Newsroom". 2010-11-12. Retrieved 2012-07-18.
  29. 1 2
  37. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  43. 1 2 Renkow, M. and Byerlee, D. 2010. The impacts of CGIAR research: A review of recent evidence. Food Policy, 35 (5):391-402
  44. Evenson, R.E. 2003. Modern variety production: a synthesis. In: Evenson, R.E., Gollin, D. (Eds.), Crop Variety Improvement and its Effect on Productivity: The Impact of International Agricultural Research. CABI Publishing, Wallingford, UK, pp. 427–446.
  45. Evenson, R.E. 2003. Production impacts of crop genetic improvement programmes. In: Evenson, R.E., Gollin, D. (Eds.), Crop Variety Improvement and its Effect on Productivity: The Impact of International Agricultural Research. CABI Publishing, Wallingford, UK, pp. 447–472.
  46. See, for example, Raitzer, D.A. and Kelley, T.G. 2008. Benefit-cost meta-analysis of investment in the international agricultural research centers of the CGIAR. Agricultural Systems, 96 (1–3):108–123.

External links

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