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Nine CGIAR centers come together to deliver agronomic solutions at scale

On 7 September 2020, CGIAR centers, supported by the Big Data Platform, launched the Excellence in Agronomy 2030 (EiA 2030) initiative during the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) virtual summit.

In his opening remarks, Dr Martin Kropff, Director General of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and Co-chair of the One CGIAR Transition Advisory Group, said that CGIAR is undergoing significant changes. He explained that it is evolving and becoming more united. That it is consolidating all its partnerships, knowledge, and assets, which is an important step in CGIAR’s existence.

“Solving hunger is still a core mission of CGIAR, but it must address it in a broader way, including all sustainable development goals (SDGs), to embrace the system transformational approach for food, land, and water systems in delivering access to affordable, sufficient, and healthy diets.

“EiA2030 will play a key role in this. Agronomy to help crop improvement is crucial. The tasks of agriculture have evolved beyond food security. Now they include a broader range of SDGs like sustainable land management, climate change, provision of healthy diets, inclusive economic growth. None of this will be achieved without the widespread adoption of improved and adapted agronomic and agroecological practices. This was the reason why we created the Excellency in Agronomy initiative, aiming at reducing yields gaps for major crops at scale,” noted Kropff.

EiA2030 is proposed as a central channel to bring coherence to CGIAR efforts globally. It will assist millions of smallholder farmers in intensifying their production systems while preserving key ecosystem services under the threat of climate change. This initiative, co-created with various scaling partners, represents the collective resolve of CGIAR’s agronomy programs to transform the world’s food systems through demand- and data-driven agronomy research for development.

EiA 2030 will combine big data analytics, new sensing technologies, geospatial decision tools, and farming systems research to improve spatially explicit agronomic recommendations in response to demand from scaling partners. Our science will integrate the principles of Sustainable Intensification and be informed by climate change considerations, behavioral economics, and scaling pathways at the national and regional levels.

“EiA 2030 will use agronomy as an entry point addressing key challenges of our time: productivity in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia, sustainability, and climate change. EiA will also cooperate directly with the Gender platform to generate evidence on how gender interacts with agronomy services,” said Dr Bernard Vanlauwe, Director of the Central Africa Hub and leader of the Natural Resource Management Research team at IITA. He also leads the team from CGIAR, and private sector and public sectors in getting EiA 2030 going.

Incubation phase

The EiA2030 incubation phase started in August 2020 and will last 24 months. This phase will demonstrate the added value of demand-driven R&D, supported by novel data and analytics and increased cooperation between centers in support of a One CGIAR agronomy initiative aiming at the sustainable intensification of farming systems. During the incubation phase, alignment of EiA 2030 with the One CGIAR reform process is expected to identify the optimal housing of EiA 2030 in relation to the overall research agenda, while respecting the bottom-up nature of the initiative and its decision-making processes.

The CGIAR centers involved in the EiA 2030 initiative are AfricaRice, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), International Potato Center (CIP), International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

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