Research is a long-term endeavor, and often has to be judged against a multiplicity of goals, measured at different timeframes. This section reports progress under the following headings:


Progress towards Sustainable Development Goals and CGIAR System Level Outcomes

One of the major changes in CGIAR over the past decade has been the full adoption of a ‘research for development’ (R4D) approach. All research projects must be linked to clearly hypothesized impact pathways to solving specific, long-term development challenges, while maintaining high standards of research quality.

The CGIAR System as a whole reports its progress against an agreed Strategy and Results Framework which has three main System Level Outcomes (SLOs): to reduce poverty, improve food and nutrition security, and improve natural resources and ecosystem services. The SRF also sets out 10 aspirational targets for progress to 2022 and 2030, which feed into the international targets established for the SDGs.

Annex Table A lists each of the SRF aspirational targets, depicts how it links to relevant SDGs, summarizes global progress in each area, and then gives evidence based on available adoption and ex-post impact studies published in 2017, on the contribution of CGIAR to each target.1 Because the timeline between initiating agricultural research and ultimate impact at scale is typically 5-25 years, much of the evidence presented relates to earlier CGIAR research. For example, in the first bullet below, rice varieties released around the year 2000, adoption studies were carried out in 2014-16 and published in 2017. However, the majority of current CGIAR programs build on earlier work and may have a similar order of impact.

Examples of high-level impact of CGIAR varieties, technologies and other innovations reported in 2017  include (for details and evidence sources, see Annex Table A):

  • Approximately 9.6 million households adopted improved rice varieties in Africa. An estimated 8 million persons were lifted above the poverty line. The New Rice for Africa (NERICA) rice varieties often benefited women more than men.
  • Nearly 67,000 farmers across four countries in Africa used Aflasafe®, a biocontrol product, to reduce aflatoxin contamination of maize and groundnuts. Aflatoxins are produced by molds that widely contaminate foods and feeds and are one of many “silent” threats in Africa, affecting health, income, and livelihoods.
  • The total estimated number of farming households benefiting from biofortified crops globally now stands at 10 million.
  • In Sulawesi, Indonesia, approximately 637,000 people (52% women) improved their income as a result of adopting tree domestication technologies.
  • Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT) strains of tilapia fish were disseminated in 16 countries. One study found that 53% of production in fish hatcheries in Bangladesh and 40% in the Philippines used GIFT or GIFT-derived strains.
  • More than 1 million tons a year of carbon emissions are likely to be saved if new fire regulations in Indonesia’s Riau province achieve the predicted 50% annual reduction in fires.
  • In Nigeria, about a quarter (24%) of sampled farmers adopted drought-tolerant maize varieties. An estimated 2.1 million individuals were lifted above the poverty line. Adoption on average reduced by 80% the level of downside risk of crop failure, which is critical for food insecure smallholders. A separate nationwide study found that two-thirds of Nigerian farmers adopted improved cassava varieties, and estimated that this led 1.8 million people to escape poverty in 2015/16.

Much of the impact data presented comes from earlier investments in impact studies through the Strengthening Impact Assessment in the CGIAR program, which finished in 2017, and it will be important to maintain investment in this area. Moreover, it will be important to ensure that all CGIAR impact studies collect relevant data on indicators for System-level targets.2

CGIAR is also making a significant contribution to tracking global progress in many of the areas covered by the SRF targets (see Annex Table A), which are often complex to measure. CGIAR researchers are contributing to data collection methods and data on international tracking of nutrition, water use, adoption of crop varieties and innovations, forest cover and climate change.

Progress towards research outcomes

A message from CGIAR’s science leaders on our promising new research targeting global food systems

Progress against research outcomes is reported in two main ways. These are: a narrative report (based on a common template) and Common Results Reporting Indicators, introduced for the first time this year. Annex Table B lists CGIAR Common Results Reporting Indicators and available data for 2017.3 Some numbers in brief:

  • 616 ‘innovations’ (significant products or findings), including 348 in a stage available for uptake (for example, a variety released, or a technique ready to scale up). Table 1 summarizes the types and stages of innovations reported, while some examples of innovations are available here. The complete list of innovations available for uptake in 2017 is in Annex Table C and the full database of innovations at all stages can be found in CGIAR Innovations in 2017. Of the innovations available for uptake, 67% were reported as novel and 33% were reported as adaptive (adaptations of previous innovations for new areas, situations etc.)
  • 112 international and national policies, legal instruments, investments and curricular to which CGIAR research contributed in 2017. These are categorized in Table 2, examples are listed in the Box below and a full database is available in Policies/Investments informed by CGIAR Research.
  • 1,764 peer-reviewed publications in 2017, of which 61% were published in Open Access. Of these, 152 were co-authored by more than one CRP or Platform.4 A small selection of significant publications is shown in Table 3 and a complete list is available in CRP Publications in 2017. Highlights of alternative metrics (Altmetric) scores are available in Annex Table D.5
  • 348,927 participants (40% women) in CGIAR training courses or events, including 1,700 (30% women) on degree or other long-term courses.6
  • 1,961 formal partnerships reported, as described in the following section7. A breakdown by stage of research is given in Table 4, some examples are shown in Table 5 and a list of key partners (not comprehensive) is available in Selected external partnerships in 2017.

Table 1. CGIAR innovations reported for 2017, by stage of research and type of innovation

1-Research/proof of concept 50 13 57 6 8 134
2-Piloting 45 9 6 3 3 66
3-Available for use 68 32 228 11 9 348
4-Taken up by ‘next users’ 38 10 11 7 2 68
Total 201 64 302 27 22 616

Source: CRP annual reports and evidence presented to support claims. A list of innovations available for use in 2017 is in Annex Table C, and a full database is available in CGIAR Innovations in 2017.


Examples of CGIAR innovations by CRP and Platform for 2017

A4NH Spatial, seasonal and climate predictive models of Rift Valley fever disease across Africa (affects domestic animals and humans)
A4NH Project-Level Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (pro-WEAI), a new survey-based index.
CCAFS Climate Smart Agriculture Country Profiles
CCAFS Farm record keeping: A women-targeted practice accounting and farm management tool supporting climate smart agriculture practice
FISH Business models for smallholder fish farmers
FISH Life Cycle Assessment tool for analyzing future environmental impacts of aquaculture
FTA LUMENS (Land-use Planning for multiple Environmental Services) to develop green growth scenarios for sustainable land use planning
FTA Online decision-support tool to help in the selection of tree species and seed sources for restoration of Dry Forests
LIVESTOCK CLEANED tools: Comprehensive Livestock Environmental Assessment for Improved Nutrition, a Secured Environment and Sustainable Development
LIVESTOCK New drought resistant tropical forage: Brachiaria hybrid “Camello”
MAIZE Improved maize germplasm through ‘temperate introgressions’, with selection for key traits relevant for smallholders in Sub-Saharan Africa
MAIZE A low-cost Unmanned Aerial Vehicle to speed up the selection of maize varieties
PIM Improved methodology to aggregate trade distortion measures across commodities within countries
PIM Rural Investment and Policy Analysis (RIAPA) model: Economy-wide model that evaluates alternative policy and investment options
RICE High zinc rice: new segregating F4 lines with nutritional values greater than 24 ppm (50% above baseline) and four lines selected by partners for variety release
RICE Novel tools to assess milling and cooking quality, for screening breeding materials
RTB Triple S – Storing Sweetpotato Roots in Sand and Sprouting: a system of conserving planting material in time for the rains
RTB Youth agri-preneurs: a vehicle to make Roots Tubers and Bananas innovations an attractive business for the next generation
WHEAT Fhb1/Sr2 recombinant to facilitate breeding wheat cultivars with improved resistance to diseases of Fusarium head Blight and stem rust simultaneously.
WHEAT Raised bed technology – An improved, more efficient surface irrigation technique
WLE Online water planning tool
WLE ‘Contour bunding’ shown to preserve soils and boosts farmers’ incomes

Source: CRP Annual Reports 2017
Note: this is not a “top thirty” but a selection of 2017 innovations, nearly all in Stage 3, ‘Available for use’ (with the exception of high zinc rice, in multiple stages), chosen to demonstrate the range.


Table 2. CGIAR contributions to international and national policies, legislation and significant investments reported in 2017

Policy or strategy 13 8 6 37 8 72
Budget or investment 3 5 18 5 31
Curriculum 1 1 1 2 5
Legal instrument 4 4
Total 14 12 12 64 13 112

Source: CRP annual reports and evidence presented to support claims. Full database available here.


Selected examples of policies, legal instruments and investments and similar to which CGIAR contributed in 2017


  • Livestock researchers and partners used their modeling expertise to provide a guide for public and private investments in Ethiopia. This ‘Livestock Master Plan’ was adopted by the Ethiopian Government and then used by various actors, including the World Bank, to shape their investments, which will ultimately impact more than 2.3 million of Ethiopia’s 11 million livestock-keeping households. The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) contribution to livestock development in Ethiopia was recognized by an honorary award from the Government in November 2017. (Reported by LIVESTOCK)
  • CGIAR research informed investment of USD 21.5 billion by the Indian Government to provide 2.75 million grid-connected solar irrigation pumps to farmers and farmer cooperatives. (Reported by CCAFS and WLE)
  • National agroforestry concession legislation enabled land and tree rights that underpin livelihoods for 120,000 households at the Amazon forest frontier in Peru. (Reported by FTA)
  • Private companies in Uganda implemented modified procedures designed to facilitate the registration of outgrower contracts in women’s names (Kakira Sugar Limited) and improve access to bank accounts for women (Tropical Bank). (Reported by PIM)
  • Conservation Agriculture based sustainable intensification was included in the national extension package in Ethiopia. (Reported by MAIZE)
  • Vietnam’s food systems are evolving rapidly, making food safety a high priority for the government. CGIAR mobilized, produced, and/or contributed to a range of initiatives supporting a shift in food safety policy to a more efficient and equitable risk-based inspection and monitoring system bolstered by compliance incentives. (Reported by A4NH)



  • CGIAR research informed investment of USD 2 million for a regional Climate Smart Agriculture strategy for Central America. (Reported by CCAFS)
  • Two more countries have joined a nine-country regional seed policy agreement that speeds up the distribution of modern rice varieties across nations in South and Southeast Asia. (Reported by RICE)
  • National and regional policy dialogue has led to new policies for one-stop border posts being established in sub-Saharan Africa (so far, in four key border posts involving eight countries), to enable women fish traders and processors to conduct easier and more equitable crossborder trade. (Reported by FISH)



  • CGIAR research and capacity development contributed to the formal decision on the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture by the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties. CGIAR provided scientific evidence (inter alia) on the importance of agriculture to the goals and concrete technical and policy options, including the benefits of increasing soil organic matter to mitigate climate change. (Reported by CCAFS and WLE)
  • The World Food Programme (WFP) mainstreamed recommendations on practical ways to make their country office programs more nutrition-sensitive, beginning with ‘seven key opportunities’. (Reported by A4NH)
  • Specific procedures for Intact Forest Landscapes were adopted by the Forest Stewardship Council. (Reported by FTA)
  • The European Union designed trade policy relating to agreements with African Regional Economic Communities. (Reported by PIM)

See more examples and details in the policy contribution database at Policies/Investments informed by CGIAR Research.

Source: CRP annual reports 2017 and evidence presented to support claims.


Table 3. Highlighted CGIAR Publications in 2017

Arouna, A., J. C. Lokossou, M. C. S. Wopereis, S. Bruce-Oliver, and H. Roy-Macauley. “Contribution of Improved Rice Varieties to Poverty Reduction and Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Global Food Security, Food Security Governance in Latin America, 14 (September 1, 2017): 54–60. RICE
Crossa, José, Paulino Pérez-Rodríguez, Jaime Cuevas, Osval Montesinos-López, Diego Jarquín, Gustavo de los Campos, Juan Burgueño, et al. “Genomic Selection in Plant Breeding: Methods, Models, and Perspectives.” Trends in Plant Science 22, no. 11 (November 1, 2017): 961–75. MAIZE/RICE
Ellison, David, Cindy E. Morris, Bruno Locatelli, Douglas Sheil, Jane Cohen, Daniel Murdiyarso, Victoria Gutierrez, et al. “Trees, Forests and Water: Cool Insights for a Hot World.” Global Environmental Change 43 (March 1, 2017): 51–61. FTA
Herrero, Mario, Philip K Thornton, Brendan Power, Jessica R Bogard, Roseline Remans, Steffen Fritz, James S Gerber, et al. “Farming and the Geography of Nutrient Production for Human Use: A Transdisciplinary Analysis.” The Lancet Planetary Health 1, no. 1 (April 1, 2017): e33–42. CCAFS
Iiyama, Miyuki, Abayneh Derero, Kaleb Kelemu, Catherine Muthuri, Ruth Kinuthia, Ermias Ayenkulu, Evelyn Kiptot, Kiros Hadgu, Jeremias Mowo, and Fergus L. Sinclair. “Understanding Patterns of Tree Adoption on Farms in Semi-Arid and Sub-Humid Ethiopia.” Agroforestry Systems 91, no. 2 (April 1, 2017): 271–93. FTA
Kim, Jaemin, Olivier Hanotte, Okeyo Ally Mwai, Tadelle Dessie, Salim Bashir, Boubacar Diallo, Morris Agaba, et al. “The Genome Landscape of Indigenous African Cattle.” Genome Biology 18, no. 1 (February 20, 2017): 34. LIVESTOCK
Palazzo, Amanda, Joost M. Vervoort, Daniel Mason-D’Croz, Lucas Rutting, Petr Havlík,
Shahnila Islam, Jules Bayala, et al. “Linking Regional Stakeholder Scenarios and Shared Socioeconomic Pathways: Quantified West African Food and Climate Futures in a Global Context.” Global Environmental Change 45 (July 1, 2017): 227–42.
Reynolds, M. P., H. J. Braun, A. J. Cavalieri, S. Chapotin, W. J. Davies, P. Ellul, C. Feuillet, et al. “Improving Global Integration of Crop Research.” Science 357, no. 6349 (July 28, 2017): 359–60. Wheat/BIG DATA
Van Boeckel, Thomas P., Emma E. Glennon, Dora Chen, Marius Gilbert, Timothy P. Robinson, Bryan T. Grenfell, Simon A. Levin, Sebastian Bonhoeffer, and Ramanan Laxminarayan. “Reducing Antimicrobial Use in Food Animals.” Science 357, no. 6358 (2017): 1350-1352 A4NH
Zomer, Robert J., Deborah A. Bossio, Rolf Sommer, and Louis V. Verchot. “Global Sequestration Potential of Increased Organic Carbon in Cropland Soils.” Scientific Reports 7, no. 1 (November 14, 2017): 15554. WLE

Note: These are not a ‘CGIAR top ten’, but have been selected to show a range of interesting publications that have generated considerable attention. They were selected after considering the following criteria: featured in CRP Annual Reports; High Altmetric Scores, in particular Mendeley downloads; High Google Scholar Citation Scores; High Journal Impact Factors; Articles with CRP Lead Authorship or multiple co-authors; Open Access status; balance across CRPs.
Source: CRP Annual Reports 2017


Capacity development

Capacity development is crucial for CGIAR’s work. CGIAR has a long history of capacity development activities which initially focused on the training of individuals at multiple levels8 but increasingly aim at institutional capacity strengthening and mutual learning between partners.

The 2017 IEA evaluation on capacity development in CGIARi found that there remains much scope for CGIAR  Centers, Research Programs and the CGIAR System as a whole to improve relevance, comparative advantage, effectiveness and sustainability of capacity development activities. The evaluation recommendations were mainly agreed onii by the System Management Board, which noted the important role of Centers, and the fact that a number of modalities could be explored to improve lesson learning and increase impact through a more strategic approach.

Open Data

CGIAR is committed through its Open Data Policy to make all research publications and data open, and specifically ‘Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable’ (FAIR). Efforts to promote Open Data accelerated in 2017 via support from the Big Data Platform. A prototype system was developed that enables a “one-stop” search across 30 or so Center data and publications repositories – an exciting first. This tool, Global Agricultural Research Data Innovation & Acceleration Network (GARDIAN), enabled access to about 50,000 publications and 1,800 datasets by the end of 2017, an increase of about 15% for datasets from the previous year. Further GARDIAN features are planned for 2018.

Figure 2. GARDIAN search tool for agricultural data and publications

Source: GARDIAN Note: Snapshot from 2018



1 These figures cannot be summed or accumulated over years, for a variety of reasons including methodology, disadoption or other changes over time, and the possibility of double-counting some people who may have adopted or benefited from more than one CGIAR innovation.
2 For example, only one study in 2017 collected data on women’s dietary diversity (a target indicator).
3 Since the indicators were only fully introduced in April 2018, after the 2017 year had closed, not all could be reported.
4 Data was not available for 2017 on the percentage co-authored with external partners.
5A full list of available Alternative metrics (Altmetrics) scores for CGIAR publications for 2017 can be found in CRP Publications in 2017.
6 This indicator was only introduced at the end of the reporting year, so evidence for the numbers reported is fragmentary. In 2018 this number will be underpinned by a database like the other indicators.
7 This number is likely to be significantly underreported for 2017, since there were cases of multiple partners recorded in one listing. This should improve in 2018.
8 As previously mentioned, in 2017, CGIAR Research Programs reported participation by 348,927 people (40% women) in CGIAR training courses or events, including 1,700 (30% women) on degree or other long-term courses.


i CGIAR-IEA, “Final Report: Volume I: Evaluation of Capacity Development Activities of CGIAR” (Rome, Italy: Independent Evaluation Arrangement (IEA) of CGIAR, August 2017),
ii CGIAR, “System Management Board Commentary on the Evaluation of Capacity Development Activities of CGIAR” (CGIAR, December 12, 2017),

Photo by S. Quinn/CIP.