CGIAR calls for more investment in research on food crops for poor countries 2007-12-08 16:20:47   Print

    BALI, Indonesia, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- The world's largest alliance of agricultural research centers called on Saturday the international community to step up investment in global climate change research on food crops for poor countries.

    "We are increasingly alarmed that if we don't move quickly to give farmers in the developing world the tools they need to deal with climate change, we could see food production in places like sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia collapse before the end of the century," said Katherine Sierra, World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development and the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) in a press release on Saturday.

    Sierra's call for stepping up research that would help developing countries adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change was made in Bali, a resort island of Indonesia, which is hosting a two-week U.N. climate change conference aimed at combating global warming.

    "I urge donors and research centers around the world to join us in investing in solutions to climate change," said Sierra.

    "This is an auspicious moment in the history of agriculture research because farmers already are under considerable pressure to increase production just to meet the food demands of a growing population," said Sierra.

    "If there ever was a time for scientists to step up and innovate, it is now," said Sierra.

    The group warned that farmers in poor nations could face a global disaster of unprecedented proportions without the commitment of the international community.

    At a meeting just concluded this week in Beijing, leaders of the 15 centers of the CGIAR that span the globe have set forth a policy to seek funding to double its current investment in "climate-ready crops" and better land management.

    Recent research efforts have made it clear that the widely anticipated increase in extreme weather events -- more drought and flooding, higher temperatures all around the world -- and a likely increase in plant pests and diseases ushered in by these changes, are going to hit poor countries particularly hard.

    The Nobel-prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in its earlier reports this year that rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns could cause agriculture production to drop by as much as 50 percent in many African countries and by 30 percent in Central and South Asia.

    IPCC predicted that unless scientists come up with hardier varieties, wheat production could disappear entirely from Africa by 2080 and maize production could drop precipitously.

    Established in 1971, CGIAR is a strategic partnership of countries, international and regional organizations and private foundations supporting the work of 15 international agricultural research centers.

Editor: Yao Siyan
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