Genetic Innovation: Looking back at 2023 results

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As we launch into a busy 2024, CGIAR Genetic Innovation (GI) Science Group is sharing some highlights from its interconnected portfolio of research Initiatives. Of course, our key end results are the delivery and adoption of improved varieties by smallholder farmers – and we’ll be compiling those within our annual Technical Reports soon. For now, check out this sample of results delivered by GI’s CGIAR-NARES networks in 2023 – all working toward better varieties that help meet growing climate, nutritional, equity, and other challenges.

Accelerated Breeding Initiative:

  • Advancing portfolio characterization and market alignment: We made significant strides in advancing the characterization of the entire breeding pipelines’ portfolio. This encompasses a meticulous analysis of the Target Product Profiles (TPPs) pursued by each pipeline and the diverse market segments they serve. The Initiative is now strategically positioned to begin working with breeding teams and leverage insights from Market Intelligence, including on gender Together, they are embarking on a crucial phase—reviewing TPPs to enhance their impact, demand, and feasibility.
  • Portfolio examination: Moreover, a strategic examination of the entire breeding portfolio and the tiers of breeding effort is underway, aiming to optimize impact and align investments more effectively. These strategic measures signify the culmination of years of dedicated work by multiple groups, marking a significant milestone in the evolution of CGIAR breeding programs.
  • Process management: A standardized breeding process model, unanimously agreed upon by all crop leads, is now in place. This model streamlines pipeline optimization and facilitates the implementation of KPIs, enhancing overall efficiency. These have been established, providing a clear view of the “health” of each breeding pipeline. This ensures a comprehensive understanding of the progress and impact of ongoing projects.
  • Breeding scheme improvement: Progress has also been made toward the development of “archetype” breeding schemes aligned with quantitative genetics principles, optimizing for higher rates of genetic gain. Further development of the breeding scheme manager has taken place to capture and streamline breeding schemes, ensuring efficient project management.
  • Genetic gain: Numerous breeding schemes have been modified, achieving higher rates of genetic gain, advancing the pursuit of improved crop varieties. The Initiative is moving toward more standardized and representative genetic gains assessments, aligned with Target Population Environments (TPE). Clear recommendations have been provided regarding expectations for on-farm verification and the critical understanding of alignment between selection environment and on-farm performance in the TPE.
  • New, efficient collaborative tools: The fully populated breeding portal is now live, serving as a comprehensive “single source of truth.” This centralized hub provides seamless access to critical information, fostering efficiency and collaboration across teams. This Program Management Platform (PMP) enables teams to plan and work against a common results framework across all projects and initiatives.
  • NARES-CGIAR partnerships: made stronger through dialogue and agreements, capacity building and workshops, and co-ownership as we work to modernize our networks.
  • Key 2023 communications:


Breeding Resources Initiative:


Genebanks Initiative:


Market Intelligence Initiative:

  • Seed Product Market Segment Database: The Seed Product Market Segment Database (SPMSD) launched in 2023 to provide data, information and insights to inform investment decisions on breeding pipelines and seed systems. The SPMSD contains more than 500 SPMSs identified using eight criteria including crop, material type, subregion, end use, color, production environment, production system and maturity. The database covers crops and subregions where CGIAR and NARES currently target investments. For each segment, the database presents descriptors for the opportunity for impact. In addition, identified market segments form the foundation on which TPP (Target Product Profiles) are designed for each prioritized market segment. The SPMSD is now available on GloMip. Also see Market Intelligence Brief #1.
  • GloMip: The Global Market Intelligence Platform (GloMIP) is a publicly accessible platform designed for users looking for relevant market intelligence to support breeding programs or investment decisions. GloMIP has six portals, three fully operational in 2023: SPMS Database, Impact Opportunities, and Target Product Profiles (TPPs). These enable the user to view information on CGIAR breeding pipelines’ target beneficiaries and products and scan for impact opportunities across seed product market segments, countries and regions. In the TTP Portal, you can query a database of about 300 TPPs designed to help breeding pipelines deliver products that meet the requirements of farmers, consumers, and processors in the market segments. The Impact Opportunities Portal features 180 indicators across five CGIAR Impact Areas. Breeders can analyze how the TPPs aim to address impact challenges and where the gaps are.
  • Analysis in 2023 on gender intentionality: A team of gender researchers began piloting adjustments to templates and processes to advance intentionality at multiple levels. An agreement with FairTrade Africa was under development to develop a “Standardized protocol” to address gender intentionality in breeding.
  • A baseline investigation of the current perceptions, attitudes, and institutional incentives to utilize market intelligence information for breeding decision-making in crop-breeding teams (CGIAR, NARES, and private sector) began. This study’s aim is to generate evidence on the costs, benefits, and comparative effectiveness of a transdisciplinary approach to market intelligence-driven breeding, seed systems, and investment prioritization.
  • A multi-country, multi-crop qualitative study helped understand how women and men farmers form their varietal uptake choices and compared these perspectives with ongoing seed promotion strategies. We found that most farmers are willing to plant what they can try (farm and/or cook) and can assess against their own needs and food cultures. Trust in seed promotion channels and greater exposure to the production and cooking performance of new seed products can encourage varietal uptake.
  • Key 2023 communications:


Seed Equal Initiative:


Other GI projects:


We would like to thank all funders who support CGIAR research through their contributions to the CGIAR Trust Fund. And to the supporters  of CGIAR Excellence in Breeding.

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