The year 2006 is coming to a close and I’d like to share with you my assessment of this busy year and thank the CIMMYT family for its invaluable contribution to making this a productive and rewarding period for CIMMYT.
CIMMYT has made major progress in science leadership, delivery, effective partnership, organizational effectiveness and coherence, financial health and external perception and recognition. Let me give some examples that illustrate why I believe that 2006 has been a successful year for CIMMYT as a science-based organization with a humanitarian mission.
We started with Science Week, a major institutional event. At the end of the week I wrote: “I believe that Science Week was a major success. First of all, the Business Plan inauguration was received with enthusiasm by all staff present and the Board members who attended. We now have a Board-approved business plan and I feel that staff are anxious to join forces to deliver the flagship products highlighted in the plan. Science Week has been a major turning point for CIMMYT. I think that we now have a clear direction, and exciting and challenging tasks ahead of us. I would like to express my sincere appreciation to CIMMYT Board members (Lene, Julio, Bob and Pedro) for their active participation in the events and for providing their great wisdom about our science both its quality and its direction. I also thank those who were involved in logistic support for the successful events.”
CIMMYT organized or led a series of international meetings, showing the strength and relevance of our science. For example:
- Wheat yield potential workshop (Obregon, March)
- Fusarium head blight (HQ, March)
- Global crop diversity strategy meetings on maize and wheat (HQ, May, June)
- International Plant Breeding symposium (Mexico City, August)
- Global Rust Initiative technical workshop (Alexandria, Egypt, October)
- Bio-ethanol international technical workshop (New Delhi, November)
While organizing such events takes great effort, they are very important. Through them CIMMYT shows its proactiveness and relevance to global issues. They are powerful sources of CIMMYT’s influence on the global agricultural research agenda and partnership.
We also made major progress on improving CIMMYT’s organizational effectiveness. A new financial management system, Axapta, has been introduced. The implementation involved not only finance section staff but also program administrative staff in HQ and regional offices. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their tremendous energy and efforts in successfully managing the migration and implementation.
CIMMYT will move to strict, Project-based management in 2007. This will ensure priority-based (flagship products) resource allocation, output-oriented activities with clear accountability and monitoring system. This will also assist us to properly cost and price project activities and provide incentives for resource mobilization.
We continue to dramatically improve our operational effectiveness. For example, our cafeteria operations (El Batan) used to lose money (around USD 200,000/year). Through a change of management and improved effectiveness, it now breaks even, saving us that USD 200,000. We will continue to strive for operational effectiveness in all operations, so that more resources will be available for our resultoriented activities.
Effective partnership is a core component for the delivery of flagship products. I am sure we are all aware of its importance and work hard to create partnerships at many levels. I have seen major progress on the development of our alliances with two key sister centers (IRRI and ICARDA) this year. We made also special efforts to actively participate in specific NARS-led events such as APAARI and GFAR.
We have a good history of working with small and medium scale enterprises. We also work effectively with large enterprises to enhance the speed of development of our products (such as improved germplasm and technology). The new Pioneer-CIMMYT joint effort to develop maize germplasm for higher nitrogen use efficiency in Africa is an example.
External perception and review
Two real highlights from an institutional perspective were our top ranking in the CGIAR-World Bank performance indicators and the positive review from the External Program and Management Review panel that took the time to analyze progress at CIMMYT after their formal report in 2005. The new review report is highly complimentary to CIMMYT. It reports in its summary, “The review team congratulates CIMMYT as a whole—the Board, management and staff—on the substantive progress made since the Fifth EPMR and feels that CIMMYT can now move ahead with confidence and optimism.”
The CGIAR performance indicators range from how many peer-reviewed papers each scientist has published to how good the financial management has been over the year. They also include assessments of governance, impact and science quality.
Partnership in science-led development
This year we were presented with the CGIAR’s highest recognition for science for development—the King Baudoiun Award. The award was given to us for our work on stress-tolerant maize in eastern and southern Africa. This is research that has a 20 year history at CIMMYT, starting with the selection of potential germplasm from the gene bank in the late 1980s and continuing through today with the very successful participatory selection work with farmers through the mother-baby trial system and the dissemination of stress-tolerant maize seed on a wide-scale by national programs, small scale seed companies and communitybased organizations. The work is a fine example of how researchled development can enhance the livelihoods of the rural poor. It is also the result of an extraordinary partnership of researchers, farmers, NARS and donors.
In 2006, there were 43 grants signed or approved for about USD 22 million. Many CIMMYT staff members were active in all stages of resource mobilization, from generating concept notes and moving them to full proposals, to investor visits. They and their research-for-development partners are to be congratulated for their hard work. It is the kind of effort we will have to continue every year to ensure we have the resources to fulfill our mission. A summary of the current status of new grants received and the project proposal pipeline are given monthly in CIMMYT Resource Mobilization intranet site at http://intranet. cimmyt.org/Resource_ Mobilization/e-index.htm.
Challenges in the new year, 2007
We end 2006 with great satisfaction for the above achievements. We will continue, in the new year, to strive for scientific excellence and organizational effectiveness. The environment surrounding our work is, unfortunately, increasingly uncertain. It includes donor funding, intellectual property policy and the viability of CGIAR as an effective system. We will need to address those challenges in a proactive manner and stay focused on our work while showing resilience and accepting such uncertainties as a matter of institutional life.
In closing, I wish you and your families the very best for this season and the new year. Without your efforts none of our success would be possible.