International Center for Tropical Agriculture

The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (known as CIAT from its
Spanish language name "Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical)" is a nonprofit organization that conducts advanced research in social and environmental fields to mitigate hunger and poverty and preserve natural resources in developing countries.

It forms part of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) , which is made up of 15 centers that share these goals on a global scale and work in collaboration with farmers, scientists, and policy makers.

Mission:

To reduce hunger and poverty in the tropics through collaborative research that improves agricultural productivity and natural resources management.

CIAT is funded through contributions from many countries, private foundations, and international organizations.

A little history

CIAT was founded in 1967. Its headquarters are in Palmira, Department of Valle del Cauca, Colombia. From these headquarters, the Center coordinates projects for Colombia and other countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Over half of its personnel are currently located in regional offices around the world.

From its beginnings, CIAT has achieved solid results in the genetic improvement of four crops: beans, cassava, tropical forages, and rice.

Towards the end of the 1980s, the Center began a research program on the management of natural resources. This effort focused on three large agroecosystems: hillsides, forest margins, and plains.

At the end of the 1990s, CIAT strengthened its scientific capability in biotechnology and genetic resources, pest-and-disease management, soils and plant nutrition, geographic information systems, and participatory research methods with farmers.

In 1996, the Center modified its traditional organizational scheme into a system based on 14 projects. New forms were developed for joint participation in research with national agricultural research systems, universities, nongovernmental organizations, and other research entities from public and private sectors.

In 2000, the research agenda was expanded to include high-value crops such as tropical fruits. Emphasis was also given to rural innovation, research on agricultural biodiversity to ensure small-scale agriculture was more competitive, and soil protection.

Challenges of the third millennium

Since 2006, CIAT has focused its work on research challenges for development:

"1. Improve and share the benefits of agrobiodiversity"

Objectives:

• To help diminish the risk of genetic loss in crops through the production, preservation, and dissemination of germplasm specifically adapted to different environments• To increase the productivity and quality of the crops under our mandate

"2. Communities and agroecosystems in the tropics"

Objectives:

• To improve the productivity of populations with limited resources to improve their quality of life• To work with them to optimize services and products that contribute to the sustainable use of the environment

"3. Biology and fertility of tropical soils"

Objective:

• To improve soil quality and thereby contribute to environmental conservation and guarantee a better future for small farmers

The programs under these challenges focus on developing products (knowledge and technologies) by means of interdisciplinary teams that support poor farmers in the tropics in achieving a more competitive agriculture.

Scientific excellence, advanced technology, and partnerships

CIAT has a solid international reputation for its strength in interdisciplinary research and innovative problem solving approaches in partnership with institutions of the public and private sector and with farmer associations. Altogether these have enabled the Center to achieve global impact in terms of its mission.

To this end, the Center has an excellent team of scientists and experts in different disciplines, supported by advanced technologies, state-of-the art laboratories, and modern tools. Three offices for regional coordination for Central America, Africa, and Asia also operate. A rich array of partnerships with institutions in the private and public sector and farmer groups stimulates knowledge and technology exchange.

The Center holds a germplasm bank dedicated to the characterization and conservation of 60,000 varieties of beans, cassava, and tropical forages. This bank is regarded as a heritage for humanity.

As a service to collaborating institutions and entities, the Center offers various options of training and conferences. More than 10,000 professionals throughout the world have been trained at CIAT over its four decades of history. They have all benefited from the specialized resources held at CIAT’s library.

Initiatives on a worldwide scale

CIAT participates actively in several projects of a global scale, collaborating with other CGIAR centers and different country partners. Among these initiatives are:

• "HarvestPlus Challenge Program/AgroSalud Project": an international effort to fight against the micronutrient deficiencies that affect millions of people. It works to improve 16 essential crops so that they may have high contents of vitamin A, iron, and zinc.
* [http://www.harvestplus.org Harvest Plus] ; * [http://www.agrosalud.org Agrosalud]

• "Generation Challenge Program": The goal is to create, by using plant genetic diversity, genomics, and comparative biology, tools and technologies that plant breeders in developing countries can use to produce improved crop varieties for poor farmers.
* [http://www.generationcp.org/index.php Generation Challenge Program]

• "Sub-Sahara Africa Challenge Program": addresses the most significant constraints to reactivate agriculture in Africa by applying a new paradigm: Integrated Agricultural Research for Development.
* [http://www.fara-africa.org/SSA%20CP.htm Sub-Sahara Africa Challenge Program]

• "Water and Food Challenge Program": to cultivate more food with less water, the program seeks to generate knowledge and methods based on research.
* [http://www.waterandfood.org Water and Food Challenge Program]

• "Tropical Whitefly IPM Project": aims to improve family livelihoods in rural areas through the effective management of the whitefly and the viruses that this insect transmits.
* [http://www.tropicalwhiteflyipmproject.cgiar.org Tropical Whitefly IPM Project]

• "Participatory Research and Gender Analysis (PRGA)": develops and promotes organizational methods and approaches, which are sensitive to gender issues, for participatory research on plant breeding and the management of crops and natural resources.
* [http://www.prgaprogram.org Participatory Research and Gender Analysis (PRGA)]

• "Amazon Initiative": Its objective is to prevent, reduce, and reverse land degradation by promoting policies and technologies for sustainable land management in the region.
* [http://www.asb.cgiar.org/regions/amazon/ai.asp Amazon Initiative]

Visit us at * [http://www.ciat.cgiar.org CIAT]

External links

* [http://www.ciat.cgiar.org/index.html International Center for Tropical Agriculture]


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