What to expect from Breeding Resources Initiative in 2024

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    CGIAR Initiative on Breeding Resources
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By Sharifah Syed Alwee, Senior Director, Breeding and Research Services 

In February, Breeding Resources Initiative’s full team convened in Nairobi, Kenya, to reflect on our accomplishments in 2023 and plan for the future. This is the first time we meet face-to-face as a full team and here are five key-takeaways from our meeting.


1. We are embracing the transition to “Breeding and Research Services” 

We’re now embarking on the year of integration where all the services we developed in 2023 merge seamlessly into one unified suite of offerings. In this context, we are increasingly becoming a service provider rather than a project-based initiative. In acknowledgment of our evolution into a service-oriented entity, our identity changes in 2024: we now emerge as “Breeding and Research Services”, or BRS. 

This year, our distinct units will also undergo a metamorphosis and branding process to better serve our client needs. More to come soon! 


2. We provide Global Shared Services enabling CGIAR and its partners to develop better crops 

At the heart of our mission lies our commitment to facilitating the development of better crop varieties worldwide. As a global service provider, Breeding and Research Services (BRS) offers streamlined, top-tier breeding services to CGIAR breeders, breeding programs, and esteemed partners like National Agricultural Research and Extensions Systems (NARES) and Sub-Regional Organizations (SROs). Our clientele is expanding, and in the coming years, we will concentrate on broadening our outreach and enhancing our service offerings.  

Presently, as part of our Global Shared Services, we provide: 

  • Genotyping services 
  • Elemental laboratory analyses: quantifying key elements such as zinc, iron, aluminum, chromium, and titanium. 
  • Trialing and Nursery support 
  • Engineering services: expert support, from conceptualization to execution, in designing and enhancing seed processing facilities, laboratories, irrigation systems and other essential research infrastructure. 
  • Agronomic practice consultancy: specialized advisory services aimed at refining agronomic protocols, evaluating practices, and offering recommendations for soil health management, pest and disease control, and the enhancement or creation of phenotyping methodologies.  
  • Process optimization: expertise in streamlining operations through the implementation of LEAN methodologies. 


3. The Service Request Portal: the one-stop gateway to seamless service ordering 

In November 2023, we introduced the Service Request Portal, a tool aimed at streamlining global shared service requests for CGIAR users and external partners, including NARES.  

We emphasize that all global shared services support requests must be processed exclusively through this Portal. Requests will only be processed once entered into the request portal and assigned a request number. This protocol ensures efficient processing of requests on a first-asked-first-served basis, given the substantial volume of inquiries received.  

To request our Global Shared Services, submitting requests via the portal is in our clients’ best interest. For assistance, please reach out to Breeding Resources Global Shared Services Team.

Breeding and Research Services team working on transformation maps for 2024 and beyond.


4. We drive innovation through crop breeding digital solutions 

Our technology unit for managing breeding information empowers breeders and scientists to innovate using digital solutions. As part of our commitment to clarity and purpose, we are rebranding this unit simply to “Digital Solutions”. With this unit, we support effective information management through technology, accelerating the impact of breeding networks.  

At the core of our digital ecosystem lies the Enterprise Breeding System (EBS), serving as the backbone to store and manage breeding data for all CGIAR breeding programs. Digital Solutions supports breeding programs’ transition to EBS, among other things.  

We are also committed to innovation and the integration of diverse systems to translate client concepts into tangible digital solutions. Our team continually designs new systems’ functionalities that evolve in tandem with our clients’ evolving needs. Our ultimate objective is to enhance the efficiency and processes of breeding networks globally. Furthermore, we ensure the seamless operation of our systems by addressing bugs, releasing incremental improvements, and managing the infrastructure hosting all cloud instances we maintain. 

For comprehensive support, we offer Global User Support (GUS) accessible worldwide, 24/7. We implement collaborative onboarding processes and provide multilingual learning resources to ensure our clients maximize the benefits of our digital solutions. 

Finally, we’re developing an analytical pipeline for breeding programs. The tool is a dynamic and modular software designed to extract data from various databases and perform analysis for better decision-making in breeding processes. The testing phase is ongoing, and a comprehensive rollout of the pipeline across breeding programs will start in Q2 2024, with training and workshops planned to ensure widespread adoption. 


5. To drive service excellence, we established a Business Process Management unit

One of the creative exercises carried out by the team during the Nairobi meeting; “On the cover!”

As we strive for excellence in all facets of our operations, we have undergone a rigorous process management exercise. This entails a thorough examination of our operational workflows across various workstreams, including lab services, trialing and nursery, and digital solutions. By scrutinizing our work habits, we aim to ensure that we execute tasks with precision and efficacy. The Business Process Management unit ensures we continue with the structured approach to improving the processes and serve our partners while generating business value.   

We have initiated process management efforts for all our units, with a focus on implementing a robust quality management system. This system will guarantee that the services we deliver consistently meet the highest quality standards. To support this work, we will roll out new tools, including a learning management platform, a service management system, and more.

In summary, as we step into 2024, Breeding and Research Services is primed to provide unmatched support and innovation to CGIAR global breeding community. We extend a warm invitation for you to join us on this transformative journey towards enhancing agricultural productivity and sustainability worldwide. And we are committed to keeping you informed about key milestones in our work, enabling you to leverage our services effectively. 

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