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CGIAR highlights in World Bank 2009 Rural Week

Rodomiro Ortiz, CIMMYT director of resource mobilization, gave a presentation titled “CGIAR’s best bet technologies: From lab to farm” on 3 March during the World Bank’s Rural Week 2009 held at their headquarters in Washington, D.C. The session was organized by EijaPehu (senior adviser, Agriculture and Rural Development, World Bank) and chaired by Indira Ekanayake (senior agriculturalist, Latin America and Caribbean Region, World Bank).

“The CGIAR can assist with technological backstopping and participate in relevant development organizations’ meetings that deal with agriculture,” said Ortiz, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of CGIAR centers.“Such interactions will help to build the needed impact pathways with a wide range of partners to succeed in this endeavor,” he added.

“Best bets” are promising approaches, practices, or technology that have been tested through experimental and on-farm research. They may include results from quasi-experimental research and wisdom from practitioners working in the field, according to Ortiz. Josette Lewis, director, Office of Agriculture, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), contextualized the discussion in a broader research and development continuum. She pointed out that this information was critical in the USAID response to the soaring food price crisis of last year, and invited other development investors to consider supporting the CGIAR “best bets” through their funding.

Ortiz also stressed the need for investments in national capacitybuilding (e.g. on strengthening national agricultural research and extension systems); infrastructure (on roads, markets, irrigation); promotion of institutions (e.g. farmers’ groups and cooperatives); support of local small and medium enterprises; and investment in agri-businesses as well as providing an enabling environment through a national government policy for agriculture.

During debate follow-up, some CGIAR members indicated that they were pleased to hear about the potential use of the ‘best bets’ for boosting crop yields in sub-Saharan Africa, said Ortiz. Some participants also indicated their support for the CGIAR’s ongoing change management process. Maria Iskandarani, CGIAR secretariat, will follow up with Pehu to explore institutional mechanisms to better link CGIAR research-for-development with World Bank operations; the goal is to make technical assistance more effective and improve collaboration between the two organizations.