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Economist: ‘You may never have heard about CGIAR, but you need to care about it’

July 11, 2014

By Carissa Wodehouse/CIMMYT

Visiting Fellow Richard Woodward of the Sheffield Political Economy Research  Institute (SPERI) recently wrote a blog post titled “The CGIAR: The Most  Important International Organisation You’ve Never Heard Of?” in which he  describes the history and impact of CGIAR, including CIMMYT. He wrote that  CGIAR “can justifiably claim to have made the biggest contribution to global  nutritional improvements witnessed in the last 50 years.”

CIMMYT, along with IRRI, are named as two key institutions in the Green Revolution. In describing the crop-based focus of the CGIAR centers, Woodward highlights the 22 new maize varieties released by CIMMYT in 2013 as well as CIMMYT’s work fighting the rust disease Ug99.

Calling attention to CGIAR’s fluctuating budget, Woodward points to the political nature of funding that goes to catastrophes and large-scale programs such as the World Food Programme. As a result of this budget squeeze, CGIAR is forced “towards uneasy collaboration with large agribusiness corporations,” which Woodward notes has its dangers.

Woodward also calls into question why CGIAR gets little attention, when eradicating extreme hunger and poverty are both prominent Millennium Development Goals.  He writes:

“Hunger and poverty are complex problems that defy straightforward policy solutions. Nevertheless, there is widespread agreement that boosting agricultural productivity in an environmentally sustainable manner – a goal to which CGIAR is devoted – is vital if poverty is to be alleviated.”