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ARS, CGIAR Sign Research Agreement / October 22, 1999 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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ARS, CGIAR Sign Research Agreement

By Jan Suszkiw
October 22, 1999

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22--A formal agreement signed this week by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) broadens the two organizations' collaborative ties in helping secure the world's food, fiber and other agricultural needs through cooperative research and information.

ARS is the chief research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. CGIAR operates an international network of agricultural research centers.

Under the five-year agreement, called a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), ARS and CGIAR scientists will conduct cooperative research in areas that include sustainable farming practices, natural resource management, and crop breeding for traits like greater pest resistance and nutritional content.

"This MOU provides scientists from two powerful research organizations with a valuable tool to work collaboratively on pressing agricultural problems," said ARS Administrator Floyd P. Horn.

Horn and Pedro Sanchez, CGIAR Center Directors Committee Chair, signed the MOU on Tuesday, Oct. 18, during a symposium in Washington, D.C., titled "A U.S.-International Partnership to Feed the World: the Role of Agricultural Research."

Horn said some of the agreement's key components include cooperative research endeavors, the exchange of new findings, and exchange programs for scientists from ARS labs and the 16 international agricultural research centers affiliated with CGIAR.

At Tuesday's conference, speakers from ARS, CGIAR and other organizations discussed five main topic areas regarding agriculture's sustainability into the 21st century:

  • Improving the protein content and other nutrients in staple crops like rice, through biotechnological and other means,
  • Promoting agro-forestry techniques on farms to ease the stress placed on natural ecosystems for timber, firewood, and other raw materials,
  • Adapting crops to marginal lands, or regions where they've not traditionally been cultivated, such as on high-salinity soils,
  • Preserving genetic resources, such as those from wild relatives of cultivated crops, through international exchange programs for germplasm and technical expertise, and
  • Tackling livestock production problems such as inadequate feed, waste disposal, or animal diseases, through coordinated research on breeding, genetics, nutrition or farm management.

ARS already is involved in about 30 formal or informal research collaborations with CGIAR centers, Horn said. One is at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Cali, Columbia. There, ARS-sponsored researcher Pamela Anderson is helping develop integrated pest management approaches that can be used to fight white fly infestations without blanket spraying. The tiny, sap-sucking flies are a global agricultural menace, Horn noted, attacking some 600 plant species, including many fruit, vegetable and fiber crops like cotton.

For more information about CGIAR and its programs, visit the organization's website at:

http://www.cgiar.org

More information on ARS is available at:

http://www.ars.usda.gov

Scientific contact: Richard Greene, ARS Office of International Research Programs, Beltsville, Md., phone (301) 504-4521, fax (301) 504-4528, rvg@ars.usda.gov.

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