Catching up with CGIAR Board Chair at WorldVeg

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Greetings to the One CGIAR family.

For this edition of my blog, I’m speaking to you from the World Vegetable Center, or WorldVeg. I’m excited to be back here to celebrate their 50th anniversary! I used to serve on the Board of WorldVeg, and stepped down when I took up the position of System Board Chair at CGIAR.

Recently I had the opportunity to be in Des Moines, Iowa, at the World Food Prize. It was a celebratory moment for One CGIAR: our very own Dr. Swati Nayak received the 2023 Borlaug Field Award. We are excited by what she has been doing, from the laboratory to the farmers, in driving demand-driven rice seed systems.

I also had the opportunity to participate in four other events. The first one was an exciting event with farmers from Mexico, who are working through an investment we have gotten from AID-I, in partnership with CIMMYT, to take from Mexico to Africa exactly what Normal Borlaug asked for. Take it to the farmer! and Take it to Africa!

On this platform I have showcased the work we are doing in Zambia through MasAgro Africa. It was a joy to hear testimonies from farmers who have done MasAgro in Mexico and want to see the same for Africa.

A second main stage event was also about Africa: it focused on the VACS Initiative, the Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils for Africa. This Initiative is led by the U.S. Special Envoy for Global Food Security, Dr. Cary Fowler. VACS is about nutrient-dense crops; VACS is about climate smart crops; VACS is about healthy soils. VACS is also going to take us from what we used to call “orphan crops” to “opportunity crops,” to ensure we can diversity our pantries.

The other side events were equally exciting. I had the opportunity to participate in a special event focused on the Russia-Ukraine war. IFPRI presented evidence on the impact of the war on food systems – particularly critical as many of our countries are dependent on maize, wheat and fertilizers from that region.

I then had a delightful event with the Global Youth Institute of Borlaug, where I was able to engage with youth from many countries, sharing my life story and giving them advice on how to become ambassadors for food security. It takes hard work, and it’s also important to network. They have to take every failure as a springboard for success, share their knowledge and be wise in getting more knowledge.

I told them, “Keep your eye on the ball and score – and make sure we feed the world!”

Be well, and thanks for watching.

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