Transformative UK-CGIAR Partnership Announced at the Global Food Summit 2023
- Impact Area
The Global Food Summit brought together leading scientists from across the world – including CGIAR researchers and managers from multiple centers – to discuss sustainable pathways towards global food security, addressing challenges such as protecting soil fertility through nature-based methods that avoid chemical inputs. Two CGIAR managers gave interventions at the conference: Lindiwe Majele Sibanda (CGIAR System Board Chair) and Apollinaire Djikeng (Director General of ILRI). Showcasing ways to increase productivity without damaging soils, Sibanda highlighted the wealth of agricultural resources gathered by CGIAR centers over the past five decades. According to Sibanda, the network’s seedbanks “hold 700,000 varieties that will allow us to breed climate-smart nutrient-dense seeds. We are sitting on gold”. Sibanda also touched on the CGIAR’s increasing interest in harnessing artificial intelligence to apply the vast data collected. One of the examples given was the AI-driven Tumaini app, developed by the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT to offer diagnoses and recommendations to banana farmers struggling with pests, using cutting-edge imaging technology to compare a photo of the afflicted plant with a collection of more than 50,000 images.
In his announcement, Rishi Sunak said: “We’re launching a new UK-CGIAR Science Center to drive cutting edge research on flood tolerant rice, disease resistant wheat and much more. These innovations will reach millions across the poorest countries as well as improving UK crop yields and driving down food prices.”
The announcement of the UK-CGIAR Centre has received significant media coverage, including a press release on the UK Government’s website. The announcement is a recognition of decades of productive collaboration between the UK and the CGIAR, and reflects the partners’ joint determination to combine their efforts and expertise to create transformative change to agrifood systems in challenging times.