CGIAR Launches Seed Breeding Initiative for SDGs
UN Photo/Gill Fickling
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Crops to End Hunger (CtEH) aims to address the “tightly interlinked” challenges of meeting the SDGs on hunger (SDG 2), extreme poverty (SDG 1) and climate change (SDG13).

Twenty CGIAR crops, including cereals, legumes and root crops, were chosen for the breeding initiative, which will develop new varieties to meet the food, nutrition and income needs of producers and consumers, respond to market demands, and provide resilience to pests, diseases and new environmental challenges arising from climate change.

17 October 2019: CGIAR announced a global initiative called Crops to End Hunger (CtEH), which will enhance its contributions to the SDGs through high-priority staple crops bred to meet the specific needs of targeted regions and their populations. The initiative is designed to accelerate and modernize how CGIAR and its partners develop, deliver and scale up the use of new crop varieties.

CtEH was launched on 17 October 2019, at the World Food Prize’s Borlaug Dialogue in Des Moines, Iowa, US.

In 2017 and 2018, a multi-funder group, including the US Agency for International Development, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the UK Department for International Development, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research partnered to launch a modernization program for public plant breeding in lower-income countries. The resulting CtEH initiative aims to invigorate breeding for the staple crops most important to smallholder farmers and poor consumers, while supporting CGIAR’s “central role and responsibility” for the conservation and characterization of the world’s crop biodiversity.

Twenty CGIAR crops, including cereals, legumes and root crops, were chosen for the breeding initiative, which will develop new varieties to meet the food, nutrition and income needs of producers and consumers, respond to market demands, and provide resilience to pests, diseases and new environmental challenges arising from climate change. The initiative aims to address the “tightly interlinked” challenges of meeting the SDGs on hunger (SDG 2), extreme poverty (SDG 1), and climate change (SDG13).

CGIAR notes that the modernization of its breeding programs will provide multiple benefits. For example, the CtEH is expected to increase the rates of “genetic gain” and the scale of impact through the adoption of farmer-preferred, market-demanded and climate-resilient varieties. The initiative will foster closer cooperation between national breeding programs, national research institutes and universities, and small and medium-sized enterprises in the private sector in low-income countries, as well as multilateral seed companies and advanced research institutes. The CtEH will also adopt standardized ways of reporting needs, opportunities and progress, which will provide funders with a transparent view of their return on investment. 

Ending hunger in our lifetimes is possible, even in the face of the climate emergency, but it requires an urgent transformation of our food system.

Speaking on the initiative, Elwyn Grainger-Jones, CGIAR’s Executive Director said that ending hunger in our lifetimes is possible, even in the face of the climate emergency, but that it requires an urgent transformation of our food system, driven by more innovation and partnerships. [CGIAR Press Release] [CGIAR Website]

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