CGIAR and Brazil forge new partnership to strengthen food system resilience

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In a move to enhance agricultural resilience, the Brazilian Agriculture Research Corporation (Embrapa) and CGIAR, the world’s largest publicly funded agricultural research network, have formalized a wide-ranging cooperation agreement. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), signed June 12, 2024, at Embrapa’s headquarters in Brasília, signals a new era of collaboration in agricultural research aimed at addressing escalating challenges such as climate change and malnutrition.

The signing took place against the backdrop of a worsening climate crisis. Recent floods have devastated one of Brazil’s top food-producing regions, destroying lives, livelihoods, and critical agricultural infrastructure. This tragedy underscores the urgent need for resilient food systems capable of withstanding extreme weather events.

A Partnership for the Future

The MoU outlines key areas of collaboration, including the adaptation and resilience of production systems and strategic crops, genebank management and expansion, the scaling up of digital innovations, improving modeling and data analysis, and implementing solutions to meet nutritional needs.

“We believe that science, innovation, and partnership offer the best hope for meeting the world’s most urgent challenges – rising hunger and malnutrition, biodiversity loss, and climate change,” said Ismahane Elouafi, Executive Managing Director of CGIAR at the signing ceremony. “We know this vision is shared with our partner, Embrapa, one of the world’s leading national agricultural research institutions. With the signing of this MOU, we are taking a step towards making that shared vision a reality.”

Building on a Strong Foundation

This agreement builds on a longstanding relationship between the two institutions, which have participated in bilateral agreements since the 1970s with CGIAR Centers such as CIAT, CIP, and CIMMYT. Together, they have made significant strides in various areas, including improving environmental management in the Amazon basin, tackling agricultural climate risks, and advancing the development of forages and silvopasture. Their collaborative efforts have also driven critical work on sweetpotato and tropical wheat, seed banks, genetic resource preservation, and software development.

The MOU combines the strengths of Embrapa with the global reach of CGIAR. CGIAR today represents 15 research centers working in over 80 countries, alongside more than 3,000 partners. National agricultural research systems (NARES) such as Embrapa are central peers in delivering research and results.

Embrapa is a state agency under the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (Mapa), that engages farmers, scientific organizations and both government and civil leaders. The institution has the continuous challenge of ensuring Brazil has food security and a leading position in the international market for food, fiber and energy.

The new agreement aims to expand collaboration into new and exciting areas, including the adaptation and resilience of production systems and strategic crops, managing and expanding gene banks, scaling new digital innovations, and improving modeling and data analysis to reduce the impact of extreme weather events. It also focuses on implementing solutions to meet nutritional needs.

“This new and expanded collaboration between CGIAR and Embrapa will be critical in accelerating work across our many shared priorities and delivering much-needed solutions to our farmers, consumers, and policymakers,” said Embrapa’s President, Silvia Massruhá.

A Shared Commitment

Both institutions are committed to collaborating through knowledge exchange and joint projects, leveraging each other’s technical capacities and assets. This partnership is seen as a crucial step toward spurring much-needed reform of agri-food systems, curbing climate change, reducing biodiversity loss, and promoting inclusive growth for vulnerable groups, including smallholder farmers, women, and youth.

“As we address the critical task of shaping our portfolio and research programs for the next six years, this agreement provides inspiration,” Elouafi added. “It serves as an example of how we can work with leading national research partners to pioneer solutions and how we can foster South-South collaboration to make sure those solutions are delivered at scale where they are needed most.”

By combining expertise and resources, CGIAR and Embrapa are poised to make substantial contributions to the fight against climate change and food insecurity, providing hope and tangible solutions for Brazil and the world.

Brazil, through Embrapa, is hosting the 20th CGIAR System Council Meeting (SC20) June 12-13.


Image: CGIAR Executive Managing Director Ismahane Elouafi delivers remarks at the CGIAR-Embrapa event in Brasilia. Credit: Andre Zandstra/CGIAR

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