Resilient and Sustainable Latin American and Caribbean Agrifood Systems: Driving Global Food Security, Inclusive Growth, and Reduced Out-Migration


Latin America and the Caribbean together hold the planet’s largest reserve of arable soils, 30% of renewable water, 46% of tropical forests, and 30% of biodiversity, making a massive contribution to global food supply and other planetary ecosystem services. Climate change and natural disasters, exacerbated by COVID-19, have eroded economic and food security in the region, destabilizing communities and triggering exports of people instead of food. Further breakdown of the region’s most vulnerable agrifood systems will push millions globally into food insecurity, unleash unprecedented migration, especially of young people, and jeopardize our ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Latin America and Caribbean region faces a host of challenges. Its resource-intensive agricultural production model has reduced agrifood system resilience and increased conflicts. Agricultural expansion and intensification, and urbanization, have degraded over 20% of forests and farmlands in the region, with negative effects on productivity, carbon storage, and biodiversity, especially in the Andes. While regional food production depends on smallholders, their livelihoods are threatened by climate change, as more than 30% of Latin American and Caribbean cropland is becoming less suited to changing climates. Farmers lack access to training, improved technologies, and remunerative markets. High uncertainty due to climate variability discourages new investments in agriculture. Agricultural value chains fail to incentivize resource efficiency, agricultural diversification, and inclusivity. And socio-economic disparities are more pronounced for women and indigenous peoples, whose participation in agrifood system innovations is hindered by deep-seated inequalities.


This Initiative aims to increase the resilience, sustainability, and competitiveness of Latin American and Caribbean agrifood systems in order to better equip them to meet urgent food security needs, reduce climate threats, stabilize conflict-vulnerable communities, and reduce out-migration.

This will be achieved by:

    1. Establishing participatory, inclusive research-for-development innovation hubs in eight countries. These will pilot, fine-tune, and scale a suite of climate-resilient, sustainable, and nutrition-sensitive production strategies in diverse Latin American and Caribbean agroecological zones, bringing 500,000 ha of land under sustainable management by 2024.
    2. Strengthening the agency, skills, and capacity of extension systems in five countries to support farmers, including women and youth. This will enable the adoption of improved technologies, low-emissions strategies, and water/soil/biodiversity management best practices emerging from the innovation hubs.
    3. Equipping extension systems in five countries with better on-farm technologies, digital agro-climatic advisory tools, and traceability mechanisms to support farmers and agricultural small- and medium-sized enterprises.
    4. Assisting three Latin American and Caribbean countries to use CGIAR research findings to shape and/or implement multi-sector, inclusive, transformative agrifood sector policies and robust Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) and National Adaptation Plans (NAPs).


    Proposed 3-year outcomes include:

    1. At least three producer associations increase their knowledge and capacities to facilitate farmer adoption of improved technologies. At least three countries strengthen their policies to facilitate enhanced entrepreneurship in agri-services, value addition, and local marketing.
    2. Extension systems in five countries are equipped with better on-farm technologies and digital agro-climatic advisory tools. At least three high-capacity agricultural small- and medium-sized enterprise partners deliver agricultural services, adopt traceability mechanisms, and facilitate financial investments.
    3. Producer associations/extensionists in at least five countries are capable of supporting farmers to increase water- and nutrient-use efficiency, conserve biodiversity, reduce pests and diseases, and restore soils using research-based tools. Agrifood actors in at least three countries implement low-emission strategies, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing productivity by 10%, also tracking contributions to national/regional climate, poverty, and biodiversity goals.
    4. Participatory and inclusive research-for-development innovation hubs are established in eight countries with agrifood actors. Producer associations, extension services and value chain actors in three countries facilitate the adoption of validated strategies by farmers in 500,000 ha.
    5. Governments in three countries use CGIAR research to develop and implement transformative agrifood sector policies and robust gender-responsive NDCs and NAPs. Regional bodies develop policy instruments to facilitate coordinated investment by agrifood system stakeholders and shifts in government policy to better support climate resilience, competitive agrifood systems, and reduced out-migration.



    Improved nutrition, health, and food security through collaborative, socio-technical innovation for climate-resilient, sustainable, and nutrition-sensitive local agrifood systems and stabilized contributions to global food security.


    New and increased agriculture-related incomes enabled through enhanced digital capacity and agri-entrepreneurship that promote remunerative value chains, local economies, stability, and community resilience.


    Expanded capacity for women, youth, indigenous groups, and ethnic minorities to take leadership roles in farm-level production, and natural-resource management, household nutrition, and agricultural value chains through tailored capacity development programs.


    Facilitation of cross-scale climate adaptation de-risks agrifood systems, making them more competitive, and provides science-based greenhouse gas-intensity reduction solutions.


    Promotion of adoption of climate-, water-, and nutrient-smart practices enhances multifunctional landscapes and enables integrated crop-tree-livestock systems.


    For more details, view the full preliminary outline


    Header photo: Coffee picking in Cauca, southwestern Colombia. Part of the Two Degrees Up case studies series on the effects of climate change on agriculture. Photo by N. Palmer/CIAT.