Statement from the CGIAR Consortium Board Chair at the "Committee on Food Security", October 2011

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This statement was made by the Board Chair of the CGIAR Consortium at the “Committee on Food Security” on Tuesday 18th October, 2011. The meeting was held in Rome 17 - 22 October 2011 – for more information about the event visit:
http://www.fao.org/cfs/en/
For more information about the CGIAR Consortium visit http://consortium.cgiar.org/

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Statement from the CGIAR Consortium Board Chair at the "Committee on Food Security", October 2011

  1. 1. Statement by Chair of CGIAR Consortium BoardRome, 18 October, 2011Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates:At the last session of the CFS, I ended my intervention by saying that if you asked me, what wasthe greatest contribution that the CFS could make to global world food security, I would answer:to raise food security concerns to a higher political level, ensuring these important subjects aregiven higher attention and priority consideration in the agendas of decision makers in capitals. Ifelt the CFS has an important advocacy role to play in contributing to change the notion thatfood security is mainly a humanitarian issue that needs technical solutions, into the conceptthat food security is a highly political issue, closely associated with poverty reduction, withcrucial economic and social development objectives, as well as with securing political stability,peace and security goals. In other words, food security is an issue that requires politicalsolutions.As a result of the destabilizing effects and uncertainties created by the recent price hikes ofmajor staple foods and the food crisis and famine in the Horn of Africa, we have seen that worldfood security concerns have been raised to a higher political level compared to a year ago. Wewitnessed with satisfaction that price volatility and food security issues were included and fullydebated in the agenda of the G20 under French chairmanship. This is a very encouragingdevelopment. The CGIAR together with FAO and other organizations, was associated with thepreparatory work of the G20 on price volatility and food security issues, work leading to theadoption of a Plan of Action at the Presidential Summit in Cannes, next November. We werevery pleased with the clear recognition in the G20 Ministers of Agriculture Declaration last Junethat an expansion in agriculture investment, including agricultural research, is fundamental forincreasing food production and productivity to meet the demands of a growing worldpopulation as well as for sustainable resource management.We also took note of the widespread agreement that increased funding in internationalagricultural research is certainly part of the solution to the world food security crisis and thatthe work of the CGIAR should be strengthened.The CGIAR work on rice, wheat and maize has been estimated to generate more than 10 BillionUSD in economic benefits each year in Asia alone. The international public good we havecreated in our 40 years of history include improved crop varieties, better farming methods,incisive policy analysis and associated new knowledge. It has often been cited that 1 dollarinvested in the CGIAR brings about 9 dollars in increased productivity in developing countries.The record shows that CGIAR research produces value for money and we have a long list ofsuccess stories to substantiate that claim. 1
  2. 2. However, we must face realities, and although I listened this morning with great interest to thewords of the French Minister of Agriculture Bruno Le Maire, the current financial and debt crisisaffecting the developed world, is likely to command priority attention at the Cannes PresidentialMeeting. We run the risk that all the important work and progress achieved over the last fewmonths with regards to food security will be significantly diluted or relegated to a second place.This would be a great pity. It is imperative that we keep the momentum and preserve foodsecurity concerns at the top of the international cooperation agenda. Agricultural research fordevelopment is a long term undertaking. The good quality research being undertaken by ourscientists today will deliver on its promises in 5 or 10 years. If we discontinue these effortstoday, we will bear the consequences in the future. Even in moments of financial crises, wecannot take our eyes off the needs to sustain investment in agriculture research.So my first message today is a plea to the CFS to send, at the end of this meeting, a strongmessage to world leaders, urging them to continue to give the issue of long term funding toagriculture and in particular to agricultural research for development, the urgent attention itdeserves.Let me turn now to updating you on the status of our work in the CGIAR. Last year I informedyou on the deep structural reform undertaken by the CGIAR, an organization of 15 internationalagricultural research centers that operates in over 120 locations in the world. I spoke about theshift of our strategy, focusing on programmes, known as CGIAR Research Programmes or CRPsrather than focusing, as in the past, on the work of individual Centers. New approaches basedon collective action by Centers are needed to address the multiple and complex challengesfacing agriculture today. I highlighted then, the institutional and governance changes and thegreater attention given to partnerships in all CRPs, from design to implementation, in order toassure impact on the ground.The portfolio of CGIAR Research Programmes covers a very comprehensive field of subjectsaimed at improving the livelihoods of the poor. These include crop genetic improvement thatproduces varieties that remain highly productive under climate stress such as drought, floods,salinity, and are resistant to pest and diseases. It includes research that results in crop varietiesthat have a higher nutritional content and bring significant health benefits to farmers andconsumers. It covers improved water and soil management practices that increase agriculturalproductivity and resilience. Other areas of research deal with the control of post harvest losses;with public policies; institutions and investment; with improved access to markets; food safety;and capacity building. This design keeps the gender and diversity dimensions of those we servehigh in the agenda of our Research programs. 2
  3. 3. At our last meeting I informed you that fifteen CRPs were being developed and that two (riceand climate change) had already been approved. A year later I have pleasure in reporting that atotal of eleven CRPs have now been approved, seven of which have already started operatingthanks to the funding donors have made available through the newly established CGIAR Fund.The CGIAR Research Programmes are an important mechanism around which bettercoordination and collaboration of research efforts can be organized, including the initiatives ofthe CFS. A large number of developed and developing countries research Centers and partnersare already participating in these CRPs, and we invite others to join in these efforts.Mr. Chairman, let me now close by sharing a few thoughts on how the CFS can best supportthese achievements as I see that the goals of the CGIAR and those of the CFS are strictlycomplimentary and bi directionally supportive.The CFS is the most inclusive platform covering world food security issues and as such we see itsrole to:First, provide a forum for mutual information, discussion and coordination of major foodinitiatives, including the CGIAR.Second, promote greater coherence and impact and break the silo mentality that oftencharacterizes different initiatives related to food security.Three, better define the complementary roles of national, regional and internationalorganizations working on food security matters.Four, build synergies and avoid unnecessary overlaps and duplicationsFive, help better integrate global developments, international policies and strategies.Finally, in view of its importance to world food security, the CFS should support developingcountries’ efforts in building-up their national food security strategies.Mr. Chairman, I am confident the CFS can raise world food security concerns to an even higherpolitical level and that it will play a vital role in addressing the complex development questionswe face and ensure a more food secure world.I assure you that the CGIAR will be one of your strongest allies in making this happen.Thank you for your attention.Carlos Pérez del Castillo 3

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