Belgian support for innovative agricultural research
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo makes ten million euro available over the next four years for innovative agricultural research conducted by the ‘Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)’, a worldwide network of research centers contributing to enhanced productivity, food security and sustainability in the agriculture. The funding will support, among others, the further development of the banana genebank of the KU Leuven.
Alexander De Croo: ”Belgium is an absolute world leader in terms of agricultural research, in the North as much as in the South. Wherever you go in the world, you will find Belgian researchers occupying important positions. In Belgium itself, we host at the KU Leuven an impressive genebank of bananas that helps NGO’s, universities, ministries of agriculture and companies in more than a hundred countries. The promotion of agricultural research is an investment in development with a high return. For each euro invested yearly into agricultural research, you get at least seventeen euros in return.”
Adapting banana plants to global warming
The Minister presented his views on the Belgian support to agriculture and food security earlier this year in a new strategic note on agriculture and food security (https://diplomatie.belgium.be/sites/default/files/downloads/strategienota_landbouw_en_voedselzekerheid_2017.pdf) . In line with this new strategy, Minister De Croo makes funding available over the next four years to support the ‘Bioversity ITC banana collection’ at the KU Leuven.
The research center in Leuven is requested to invest specifically in research that can enhance food security and high quality nutrition in the South, including through specific adaptations of banana plants against global warming. Funds are also made available in order to widen the databank in the future to other crops such as potatoes and other tuber and root crops.
Private sector and innovation
An important part of the Belgian support goes to the ‘Consortium for Improving Agriculture-based Livelihoods in Central Africa’ (CIALCA). Despite the difficult local circumstances in DRC, Burundi and Rwanda, evaluations have shown that farmers who work with CIALCA fare better financially. In the coming years, the Minister expects CIALCA to get even more involved in supporting private-sector initiatives in agriculture, in diversity that contributes to sustainable food security and in innovation.
The research programme around ‘Policy, Institutions and Markets’ focusses on rural transformation and how it can contribute to inclusive growth. It examines the most cost-efficient way to invest in agriculture, in collaboration with the private sector, and how these investments can create opportunities for small farmers, particularly women and. It also aims at intensifying collaboration between Belgian and local centers of expertise.
Rice in Western Africa
Africa Rice, based in Ivory Coast and very active in Western Africa, will receive for the first time in many years support from Belgium. Rice is an important crop in West Africa. With the help of Africa Rice, Belgium hopes that countries in the region will increase their productivity and sustainability in the rice sector.
Belgium is a long-time partner of CGIAR and its sixth European donor. Our country is part of the Board of Directors and makes important contributions to recent reforms. CGIAR has also recently started looking for innovative financing channels and wants to work closer with the private sector, an initiative fully supported by Belgium.
Want to know more?
* Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR): http://www.cgiar.org/
* Bioversity ITC bananendatabank: https://www.bioversityinternational.org/banana-genebank/
* Consortium for Improving Agriculture-based Livelihoods in Central Africa’ (CIALCA): http://www.cialca.org/