Latin America and the Caribbean


Regional Director, Latin America and the Caribbean

To read this page in Spanish, please consult: América Latina y el Caribe.

The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) are characterized by unparalleled agrobiodiversity, and a rapidly changing food system that is focused on food export and drives land-use conversion.

The region comprises six of the world’s ten most biodiverse countries, however, the recent focus on food export and processed foods may be neglecting local resources and traditional food system practices.

Pivoting the region to focus on its biodiversity could usher in many needed improvements in food and nutrition security while also sustainably restoring food systems to promote inclusive growth for smallholder farmers and other vulnerable groups.

CGIAR’s approach focuses on five key areas of impact:

Nutrition, health, and food security: Strategies are needed that can enable access to diversified and nutritious food for all genders and age groups. Co-developing and testing tailored and context-specific solutions with local and national agri-food system actors can help to guarantee food and nutrition security for the region’s 650 million people.

Poverty reduction, livelihoods, and jobs: To minimize the impact of productivity gaps, rapid outmigration, and fragmented local agri-food systems (AFS), efforts are focused on enhancing digital capacity and agri-entrepreneurship. This can help to address challenges by promoting diversified remunerative value chains, boosting local economies, stability, and community resilience.

Gender equality, youth and social inclusion: Targeted efforts are focused on actively engaging rural women from different socioeconomic backgrounds, not only as passive recipients of capacity building but as consumers, farmers, and food producers, as well as co-creators of knowledge, and leaders of knowledge exchange.

Climate adaptation and mitigation: To alleviate the effects of climate change and variability, which exacerbate low productivity, crop losses, and unsustainable land use management, CGIAR is facilitating cross-scale climate adaptation, de-risking AFS, making them more competitive, and providing science-based low emissions solutions.

Environmental health and biodiversity: CGIAR promotes the adoption of climate-, water-, and nutrient-smart practices for enhancing and conserving multifunctional landscapes in the region and globally. Important biodiversity, agrobiodiversity, and associated ecosystem services are protected through a focus on the sustainability of LAC agriculture under climate and other stressors.

CGIAR: Science and innovation to transform food systems in Latin America and the Caribbean

This brochure briefly explains what CGIAR is and the value proposal of the main global agricultural research and innovation network for Latin America and the Caribbean, a key region for the whole world’s food security and biodiversity preservation.

Challenges and Opportunities

  • Agriculture uses 33% of LAC land area, nearly 75% of its freshwater resources, and generates almost 50% of the region’s greenhouse gas emissions, with 70% coming from livestock.
  • Despite consistent food production surpluses and extensive food exports, 83 million people in LAC are poor, and 53 million are hungry, which portrays inefficiency and inequality.
  • Fifty-one million rural people and $28 billion in crop and livestock production are exposed to climate hazards, particularly drought and climate variability, such as floods and hurricanes.
  • LAC biodiversity and forests play key roles in global environmental sustainability, ranking among the top 6 of the 10 ten most-biodiverse countries in the world. For instance, the Andean mountains’ unique agrobiodiversity and its water towers provide essential ecosystem services, which are under threat with climate change undermining the livelihoods of millions of family farms and indigenous peoples. Globally, LAC has 23% of the total global forest coverage, 36% of the CO2 stock kept in forests, and 33% of the total volume of renewable water resources.
  • Female farmers, who account for at least half of all LAC food producers, are greatly underutilized and can provide much-needed leadership on issues of sustainability and agroecology.

Research and Action

Response to regional demands and expectations and guaranteeing success in the LAC region will require co-establishing priorities and a common research agenda among regional, national, and sub-national stakeholders. These objectives will be attained through careful planning and collaboration with partners at all levels and within the public and private sectors.

The region-headquartered CGIAR Centers – the International Potato Center (CIP), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), and the Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), as well as the LAC office of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) – will continue to be powerful drivers of change and hubs for collaboration and co-creation of solutions, while leveraging CGIAR’s global expertise and capacities.

Furthermore, over the next two years, the region will integrate 17 Initiatives from CGIAR’s 2022-2024 Investment Prospectus that will bring an impressive wealth of expertise, innovation, and partnership-building to vulnerable communities facing food, land, and water challenges.

Explore CGIAR Initiatives in Latin America and the Caribbean

Launch Portfolio Explorer

Explore 50 years of CGIAR Innovations in Latin America and the Caribbean



Effective engagement with partners is the foundation of a food-secure future for all through land and water systems transformation in a climate crisis. A coordinated strategy and regional presence in LAC will facilitate robust joint action with stakeholders and ensure that CGIAR’s science remains leveraged to have the strongest impact possible.

Partnerships are indispensable for reaching our goals. We are working to build a local and regional network of research and innovation partners; to strengthen the capacity of local and demand partners such as farmer organizations; and bolster our partnerships with government, international development organizations, the private sector and others who can help us to achieve impact at scale. Our collaborative work with stakeholders will be guided by seven principles: complementarity for impact; shared ownership; a focus on results; transparency and accountability; integrity; calculated risk; and a learning culture.

The Engagement Framework offers partners and CGIAR staff clear, efficient, and effective principles, systems, approaches, and services to work across CGIAR and achieve our common goals. It maximizes the value of the time and resources that partners invest with CGIAR and sets out a clear pathway that integrates and leverages partnerships and advocacy to deliver impacts at scale and accelerate progress toward the 2030 Agenda.


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