CIRAD is heavily involved in the France-CGIAR Action Plan

Institutional news 16 February 2021
France and the CGIAR System signed an ambitious action plan on 4 February 2021. The aim is to strengthen their partnership, institutional and scientific links in favour of research for agricultural and rural development in the global South. As a French public agricultural research for development operative, CIRAD will be heavily involved in the three topics covered by the plan: the agroecological transition; nutrition and sustainable food systems; and agriculture and climate change.


In the current context of increased climate change, France and the CGIAR System share the same global objectives:

  • reducing poverty and gender-based inequality,
  • fighting food insecurity and malnutrition,
  • preserving natural resources and biodiversity.

On 4 February 2021, France and the CGIAR Organization System officially undertook to step up their collaboration by means of an action plan centring on those objectives.

The plan, which benefits from institutional and financial support from several French ministries, notably the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, comprises three components: the development of ambitious partnership projects; soft diplomacy on a global and European level; and financial and implementation support for projects.

CIRAD will be particularly involved in building partnership projects. This component is founded on the declaration on cooperation and reinforcement of scientific collaboration signed by French organizations including CIRAD with the CGIAR System in 2019.

The declaration set out three major topics for collaboration:

  • the agroecological transition ,
  • agriculture and climate change,
  • nutrition and sustainable food systems.

"CIRAD and the CGIAR System go back a long way", CIRAD President Managing Director Michel Eddi said at the signing of the action plan. "We rank second in the list of organizations worldwide that co-sign scientific articles with teams from CGIAR."

"For the past forty years, CIRAD has had between fifteen and thirty of its researchers on assignment to CGIAR centres at any one time," he added. "Several CGIAR researchers have also joined the platforms in partnership for research and training initiated worldwide by CIRAD."

CIRAD is also a recognized expert in the implementation of large-scale projects. It is currently coordinating thirteen projects under the EU DeSIRA programme to foster resilient agriculture in the light of climate change, with a total budget of 60 million euros.

The three topics that govern the priorities for collaboration under the action plan fit in with CIRAD's main scientific strategy framework. CIRAD is already making a major contribution to the topic of agroecological transitions, launched by France and the CGIAR System in 2018. Since 2020, CIRAD and the CGIAR FTA (Forests, Trees and Agroforestry) programme have been coordinating a new transformative partnership platform (TPP) aimed at using agroecology to transform farming and food systems.

The TPP, whose steering committee is currently being established, is due to build a portfolio of ambitious projects centring on the agroecological transition. It is also intended to fuel the science-policy debate within an open, inclusive partnership model involving national agricultural research systems.

In terms of nutrition and food systems, CIRAD has worked with the CGIAR Agriculture for Health and Nutrition (A4HN) programme to launch or consolidate three studies on:

  1. the nutrition and economic potential of traditional fruits, vegetables and pulses in five African countries (Senegal, Benin, Ivory Coast, Kenya and Ethiopia), with the Bioversity-CIAT Alliance;
  2. consumer practices in line with the food environment in Vietnam, Nigeria and Kenya, also with the Bioversity-CIAT Alliance;
  3. institutional catering (canteens) in poor urban communities in Senegal, Ghana, Ethiopia, Cambodia and Bangladesh, in collaboration with IFPRI.

Lastly, on the topic of climate change, CIRAD is a partner in an initiative aimed at using digital decision support tools to boost the resilience of agro-silvo-pastoral systems in North and West Africa with limited access to water. The initiative is currently being structured and will be led by IRD for France, alongside ICARDA, ICRISAT, Bioversity-CIAT and CIMMYT.

It will serve to:

  • co-construct multi-stakeholder, trans-disciplinary decision-making systems centring on water and its use;
  • use simulation to make choices regarding combinations of improved varieties and farming practices, diversification of farming systems, and surface and groundwater management.

The action plan and its three components represent a commitment to the CGIAR on the part of the following three French ministries: the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, and the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, which was the linchpin in preparing the action plan and will be providing twelve million euros of funding over a three-year period.