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First-rate feedback on Mega-Program proposals

1127With the words ‚Äúcongratulations for the good work of your teams,‚ÄĚ on 18 June 2010 the Consortium Board returned its feedback on the MAIZE and WHEAT Mega-Program proposals recently-submitted by CIMMYT, in conjunction with IITA and ICARDA. Consisting of comments from three external reviewers and the Board itself, the critiques praise the proposals but lay out suggestions for improvement that include clarifying impact pathways and interactions and boundaries with other CGIAR initiatives; elaborating on partnership strategies; further analyzing gender issues; finalizing management approaches; and defining how the Mega-Programs will be monitored and evaluated.

One reviewer of the MAIZE proposal said: ‚ÄúThe strategic vision presented in the proposal‚Äôs 10 Strategic Initiatives (SIs) is admirably comprehensive‚Ķ. the conceptual structure of the presentation under each SI is excellent, and represents a model that could be followed in other Mega-Programs.‚ÄĚ In the opinion of another: ‚ÄúThe outcomes of the proposed work are clearly described and highly relevant‚Ķ. the SIs concerning breeding and genetic diversity are highlights in excellent science.‚ÄĚ The Board characterized WHEAT as an ambitious Mega-Program: ‚ÄúIts major strength is the relevance and‚Ķcomplementarity of the SIs. Together, they appear to work on achieving a common goal of boosting farm level wheat production while building resilience into the system.‚ÄĚ

The MAIZE and WHEAT draft proposals were built on diverse partner feed-back, as expressed in direct day-to-day interactions and communications. For further refinement, the proposals went out for comment to more than 700 representatives in over 350 institutions, including national agricultural research programs, universities, advanced research institutes, non-governmental organizations, donor agencies, private companies, and farmer associations. To date, CIMMYT has received several dozen offering support or suggestions for improvement. Center staff have also taken advantage of individual visits and meetings like the International Wheat Conference held in St. Petersburg, Russia, during 01-04 June 2010, or the establishment of the Asia Hybrid Maize Consortium, to seek partners’ engagement and feedback.

CIMMYT is revising the proposals and will return the new versions to the Consortium Board in July 2010. Budgets, arrangements, and many operational details are under development, and in many cases implementation will be defined with partners when work gets underway.