Technology to accelerate potato breeding in Lima… state of the art tools to diagnose crop diseases in the fields of Uganda… and fresh hearty varieties to boost incomes for smallholder farmers in India.
These are just a few of the accomplishments of the International Potato Center (CIP) in 2019, which is commemorating those feats, and others, in its annual report, released this week.
The annual report (available online) presents compelling snapshots of CIP’s work with 161 partners in 19 countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America, telling stories about relief work with sweetpotato in Mozambique and simple storage innovations that are putting more income in the pockets of Ethiopian farmers.
Together, these stories point to the need to transform food systems and why investing in agricultural research-for-development has never been more important. “In our post-COVID world, a return to business as usual is not an option. More sustainable land use and enhanced food safety will offer us greater protection against future pandemics. Now is the time to reinvent our food, land and water systems,” writes Barbara Wells, CIP’s Director General.
Potato and sweetpotato are the third and sixth most important food crops, respectively, in terms of human consumption, and they play a crucial role in global efforts to reduce hunger, malnutrition and poverty. Since 2010, CIP innovations and development interventions have reached over 8.5 million households, improving diet diversity, resilience, and employment and livelihoods. While CIP’s efforts are largely concentrated in Africa and Asia, they has renewed and renovated their focus in the Andes, a biodiversity hotspot of global importance that is especially vulnerable to climate change.
At CIP, “a more resilient future means focusing on inclusion in all our work,” writes Rodney Cooke, the Chair of the Board of Trustees. “From the crop varieties we breed to the market innovations we develop. Adopting a gender-responsive approach produces better outcomes. As we foster positive change through our research for development, CIP has prioritized diversity across the organization. More than 40% of our personnel are women, including science leadership, senior management and the board of trustees.”
While CIP’s work in 2019 made significant contributions to meet the needs of millions of farming families, the annual report looks forward to the challenges still ahead. As Wells and Cooke write, “Research to enhance conservation of the world’s agrobiodiversity is crucial in building resilience in the face of global warming. Research to increase food production by 60% over the next 30 years, while remaining within environmental boundaries, is critical. And research for more nutritious, sustainable food systems capable of generating inclusive growth is needed now more than ever.”
The annual report also provides valuable information about CIP’s communications efforts to share its work with wider communities of researchers, extension agents, governments, and the general public, including the many funders who make CIP’s work possible.
Altogether, CIP’s annual report is not so much a reflection as a renewal of commitment to create a more equitable, productive and environmentally-sustainable planet for future generations.