How can we intensify agricultural production while at the same time ensuring adequate environmental protection? This is what a new CGIAR Research Program will investigate in the upcoming ten years, tackling one of the largest and most pressing issues of our time. Led by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), a Stockholm Water Prize Laureate, the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems looks to radically transform the way land, water and natural systems are managed.
"There is enough water and land to feed the population - at least until 2050"
“We believe that there is enough water and land in the world’s major breadbasket regions to adequately feed the world’s population at least until 2050, but only if we improve the way we manage global ecosystems,” says Dr. Simon Cook the new director of the research program. “While we still have acute crises of hunger, ecosystem degradation and water scarcity in many areas, we have many of the solutions already at hand. This program will focus on capitalizing on these opportunities, minimizing risks and helping the world’s poorest farmers maintain and improve their livelihoods and the ecosystem services that sustain them and others”
The Research Program has five main themes:
- Irrigation: the hope is to find new strategies to expand its use in Africa. In South Asia the focus will instead be on developing greater efficiency through integrated governance and technical approaches;
- Rainfed agricultural systems can benefit from the use of supplementary irrigation plus improved supply chains, markets and finance. Seeing as rainfed agriculture accounts for nearly 90 percent of African agriculture, there is a huge scope for improvements for meeting future demands for food;
- River Basin Management: intensifying agricultural production could be attained without harmful offsite impacts to environment and downstream water users;
- Resource reuse and recovery: Turning waste water into valuable resources for farm use. Information research will explore how new technologies like cell phones can get information to poor farmers about soil and water and how to bring together natural resource data from across CGIAR and its partners and deliver it in innovative ways to those who need it.
The new research program is the latest in a series of initiatives designed to promote more joined-up-thinking on agricultural research for development at CGIAR. “The problems of food security, water scarcity and environmental degradation are intimately connected,” says Dr. Colin Chartres, Chartres director general of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the new research program’s lead agency. “We can no longer continue to address them as separate entities. This new approach, which envisages unprecedented levels of collaboration between the various international research centres of CGIAR, aims to deliver innovative research that can have real impact on how we manage natural resources and ensure food security for the world’s population, predicted to grow to 9 billion people by 2050.”
Journalists attending the London Planet under Pressure Conference are invited to attend the official launch of the CGIAR Research Program on Water Land and Ecosystems Research Program and meet the new director at the CGIAR exhibition booth on Tuesday 27 March at 5.30pm (BST). Alternatively one-on-one interviews with Dr Cook and Dr Chartres can be arranged.
More information on the program can be found on IWMI's homepage.