How did we do? And where are we heading? – CIAT’s Annual Program Review
Last week, from 6th-9th of August, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) held its 45th Annual Program Review (APR). Out of 90 participants, 30 were non-Cali based and represented different geographic regions where CIAT also has research activities, including Africa and Asia. The overall objective of this yearly gathering was to provide peer oversight and advice to promote high quality research and enable CIAT to achieve CGIAR System Level outcomes. Ruben Echeverría, CIAT’s Director General, stated at the opening speech, that the meeting’s aims were to identify areas of potential integration within CIAT and growth in the Consortium Research Programs (CRPs). Additionally, it should serve as an opportunity for participants to discuss which activities and initiatives should be strengthened or discontinued. Lastly, the APR aimed at providing a discussion forum for cross-cutting challenges such as a Monitoring and Evaluation framework. According to CIAT’s DG, much had already been achieved such as the building of a CIAT brand, together with preparing flagship publications on eco-efficiency and strengthening the impact assessment.
DAPA, the Decision and Policy Analysis research area contributed to this gathering through presentations of current research projects and panel discussions. In Session 2, Daniel Jiménez, agronomist and DAPA researcher for the Site-Specific Agriculture Program (SSA) gave a presentation on DAPA’s potential to facilitate farmers with detailed information about how, what and where to grow. Session 3 was led by DAPA’s Science Officer, Ms Osana Bonilla, who introduced CGIAR’s CRP 7, namely Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). CCAFS’s program leader Dr. Andy Jarvis and principal scientist Dr. Peter Läderach further elaborated on its principles and objectives. These include the identification and development of pro-poor adaptation and mitigation practices, mainly through partnerships, engagement, communication and capacity enhancement. CRP 5, which is Water, Land and Ecosystems was presented by DAPA’s scientist Dr. Marcela Quintero, who is based in Peru. She explained the program’s principle of benefit-sharing, i.e. who can benefit from what? She also clarified how DAPA’s activities fit into CRP 5 through quantifying and valuing ecosystem services in Andean watersheds as an input for Payment for Ecosystem services design and implementation.
Science 4 Development
Dr. Mark Lundy, scientist for DAPA’s sub-program “Linking farmers to markets”, truly caught the audience’s attention in Session 8 by giving a somewhat thought-provoking presentation. He made clear that CIAT’s major challenge is the fact that science does not equal development: how do you bridge research with development or how do you better connect scientists with policy-makers? According to him, science has to go beyond the mere publication of academic research publications, which should rather be converted into full-scale policies that benefit the poor and sustainable development in general. With reference to sustainable trading relationship he raised the following concern: under what conditions and to what extent can business models be an effective tool for rural poverty reduction? – An open question that was aimed at the audience and the subsequent panel discussion.
On the whole, this year’s APR was a highly productive meeting that enabled CIAT researchers from all over the world to analyse past successes and upcoming opportunities and to bring forward new ideas and initiatives on how to confront future challenges and to fully exploit avenues for improvements. The APR clearly showed that all of the participants possess great enthusiasm for sustainable development in general and are fully inclined to CIAT’s mission, namely reducing rural poverty, increasing food security, improving nutrition and health, and the sustainable management of natural resources. All of this can and should be enhanced through CIAT’s scientific agricultural research. Now it is time to implement the issues brought forward at this meeting which will be followed up at CIAT’s next APR.