New association to foster work of international agricultural research centers

Source:AVRDC
Nine institutes to collaborate for flexible, rapid response to poverty and malnutrition
The new Association of International Research and Development Centers for Agriculture (AIRCA) was launched on 2 March 2012 at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome, Italy under the auspices of the Global Forum for Agricultural Research (GFAR). Chaired by Trevor Nicholls, CABI Director General, with AVRDC Director General Dyno Keatinge as Vice-Chair, the new association will serve as a platform for the nine founding member institutes to make a vigorous, combined impact on the elimination of global poverty and malnutrition.
With their global reach and welldeveloped networks of country partners in the Americas, Africa and the Asia-Pacific, AIRCA associates (see page 3) have particular strengths in helping countries in the developing world build their own agricultural research and development capacity. All nine have a historical track record of successful research outcomes that have been scaled up to development impact at landscape and regional levels.
Representation at the regional level provides AIRCA with the diverse public and private sector linkages necessary to plan, develop and execute research with strong local support and a high probability of attaining sustainable development outcomes.

For decades, AIRCA associates have helped farmers in the field overcome the difficulties they experience in producing good crops in troublesome niche environments. The germplasm and diagnostic skills AIRCA associates provide assist poor farmers in their daily confrontations with harsh climates, pest and disease outbreaks, erratic input supply chains, and weak policy and market structures.

AIRCA members' extensive competence in crops with high economic, social, nutritional and ecological value complements the work of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) in staple crops. "A strong orientation toward problem solving at a system level, rather than a focus on a single commodity, grounds AIRCA's research and development actions in the day-today challenges experienced and articulated by the poor farming community in the developing world," said Dyno Keatinge.

AIRCA is poised to address complex and rapidly evolving problems such as global climatic uncertainty and widespread malnutrition through its genebanks, from which material is made available to partners as freely and effectively as possible. By planting varieties suited to specific agroecological conditions, farmers can create the intensified yet sustainable climate-smart landscapes necessary to feed and nourish the world. Because they are relatively small in size and have uncomplicated governance and management structures, AIRCA associates can respond to agricultural problems quickly and efficiently, combining and re-combining as necessary with a diversity of partners to provide solutions to development problems.

Strong working relationships with other major players such as the FAO, the CGIAR Centers, the academic community and the private sector worldwide offer additional avenues to contribute expertise to assist the poor and disadvantaged. Mitigating the impact of flooding, drought, salinity, soil infertility, and pests and diseases on agriculture, human diets, health and prosperity motivates AIRCA to reach out to donors and partners as a unified, action-oriented group.

Together, all can contribute to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.

Highlights

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