Thinking beyond the canopy

The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)

The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) is a global partnership that brings together scientific organizations with funders of research on sustainable development. The funders include developing and developed country governments, foundations, and international and regional organizations. They support the work of 15 international agricultural research centers and, through the centers, collaborative partnerships with hundreds of government and civil society organizations as well as private businesses around the world.

The CGIAR is trying to achieve reduced poverty and hunger, better human health and nutrition, and greater ecosystem resilience. To achieve that goal, the CGIAR uses science to foster sustainable agricultural growth that benefits the poor. The new crop varieties, knowledge and other products that result from the CGIAR’s research are available to individuals and organizations throughout the world. Eleven of the CGIAR Centers maintain international genebanks. These genebanks—the world’s most important—conserve and distribute a wide array of important crop diversity, which is the basis of global food security.

The CGIAR carries out innovative Challenge Programs that address important global or regional issues. These programs involve centers and partners in seeking to solve problems such as micronutrient deficiencies, which afflict more than three billion people worldwide; water scarcity, which affects a third of the world’s population; and climate change, which poses a massive threat to rural livelihoods throughout the developing world.

Since its creation in 1971, the CGIAR has proved its capacity to improve people's lives and protect the environment. Without public investment in international agricultural research through the CGIAR:

  • world agricultural production would be 4-5% lower
  • developing countries would produce 7-8% less food
  • world food and feed grain prices would be 18-21% higher
  • 13-15 million more children would be malnourished.

Investment in the CGIAR has shown itself to be remarkably cost-effective. For every $1 spent on CGIAR research, $9 worth of additional food is produced in developing countries, where it is needed most.

In December 2009, the CGIAR adopted a new way of working in order to improve its impact.  The new model is based on an equal partnership between donors and scientists. A new CGIAR Fund will harmonize donor contributions, while a Consortium unites the Centers under a legal entity that provides the Fund with a single entry point for contracting Centers and other partners to carry out research. Henceforth, the CGIAR Centers will operate under a Strategy and Results Framework aimed at strengthening collaboration for greater efficiency and effectiveness. A portfolio of Consortium Research Programs is under development: these will provide CGIAR scientists and partners with better ways to deliver solutions to major global challenges in development.

The Consortium of CGIAR Centers

Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice)

AfricaRice is a leading pan-African research organization with a mission to contribute to poverty alleviation and food security in Africa through research, development and partnership activities. AfricaRice has its headquarters in Cotonou, Benin.

Bioversity International

Bioversity International uses agricultural biodiversity to improve people's lives. Based in Rome, Italy, the center carries out global research to seek solutions for three key challenges: sustainable agriculture, nutrition and conservation.

International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

CIAT (which derives from the abbreviation of the center’s Spanish name: Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical) is an agricultural research institution that focuses on scientific solutions to hunger in the tropics. Based in Cali, Colombia, CIAT believes that eco-efficient agriculture—developing sustainable methods of food production—is the best way to eradicate hunger and improve livelihoods in the region.

Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)

CIFOR is dedicated to advancing human wellbeing, environmental conservation and equity. CIFOR conducts research that enables more informed and equitable decision making about the use and management of forests in less-developed countries. CIFOR is headquartered in Bogor, Indonesia.

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)

CIMMYT is a research and training center headquartered in Mexico. (The abbreviation CIMMYT derives from the Spanish version of its name: Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maíz y Trigo.). CIMMYT’s mission is to sustainably increase the productivity of maize and wheat systems to ensure global food security and reduce poverty.

International Potato Center (CIP)

CIP (known by its Spanish acronym, which stands for Centro Internacional de la Papa) seeks to reduce poverty and achieve food security on a sustained basis in developing countries through scientific research and related activities on potato, sweet potato, other root and tuber crops, and on the improved management of natural resources in the Andes and other mountain areas. CIP’s headquarters are in La Molina, outside of Lima, Peru’s capital.

International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA)

ICARDA aims to contribute to the improvement of livelihoods of the resource-poor in dry areas by enhancing food security and alleviating poverty through research and partnerships to achieve sustainable increases in agricultural productivity and income, while ensuring the efficient and more equitable use and conservation of natural resources. ICARDA is based in Aleppo, Syria.

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)

ICRISAT conducts agricultural research for development in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa with a wide array of partners throughout the world. ICRISAT and its partners help empower poor people in the semi-arid tropics to overcome poverty, hunger and a degraded environment through better agriculture. ICRISAT is headquartered in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India.

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Based in Washington, DC, USA, IFPRI seeks to provide policy solutions that reduce poverty and end hunger and malnutrition. IFPRI places priority on activities that benefit the greatest number of poor people in greatest need in the developing world. In carrying out its activities, IFPRI seeks to focus on vulnerable groups, as influenced by class, religion, ethnicity, agro-ecological location, and gender. IFPRI is based in Washington, DC, USA.

International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)

IITA works with partners to enhance crop quality and productivity, reduce producer and consumer risks, and generate wealth from agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa. IITA concentrates its work on cowpea, soybean, banana/plantain, yam, cassava, and maize. IITA has its headquarters in Ibadan, Nigeria.

International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)

ILRI works at the crossroads of livestock and poverty, bringing high-quality science and capacity building to bear on poverty reduction and sustainable development for poor livestock keepers and their communities. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, ILRI works in all tropical developing regions of Africa and Asia.

International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)

IRRI develops new rice varieties and rice crop management techniques that help rice farmers improve the yield and quality of their rice in an environmentally sustainable way. IRRI works with public and private sector partners in major rice-growing countries to do research, training, and knowledge transfer. IRRI’s social and economic research also informs governments to help them formulate policy to improve the equitable supply of rice. IRRI is headquartered in Los Baños, the Philippines.

International Water Management Institute (IWMI)

IWMI targets water and land management challenges faced by poor communities in developing countries and through this contributes towards the achievement of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals of reducing poverty, hunger and maintaining a sustainable environment. IWMI is based in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

World Agroforestry Center

The World Agroforestry Center’s missionis to generate science-based knowledge about the diverse roles that trees play in agricultural landscapes, and use its research to advance policies and practices that benefit the poor and the environment. The World Agroforestry Center is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya.


WorldFish carries out research-for-development with partners to make small-scale fisheries more resilient and productive, and to support the adoption of sustainable aquaculture that specifically benefits the poor. WorldFish is based in Penang, Malaysoa.