Jatiluwih rice terraces. Coconut palms are planted around plots to mark boundaries (Indonesia) © Alain Rival, CIRAD

Sustainable agriculture

A major proportion of economic value in our societies is drawn from agriculture. What are the mechanisms and opportunities for creating that value? How can we support new processes that respond to market changes, while safeguarding resources? Via its Cirad’Innov arm, CIRAD can help you to master the keys to the success of your R&D projects, from varietal approach to resilient farming systems.

Knowing plant resources better, an R&D issue for innovation

Building in-depth knowledge of plant species, a stage often overlooked by in-house R&D services, is central to innovation. We are constantly extending our understanding of species: molecules (DNA, RNA, proteins), cells, organs, etc., right up to a whole plant, if not a plot level.

From varietal creation to improvement

Improved yields, processing capability, organoleptic properties, etc… producers, processors and territories strive to stand out from their competitors. Over more than 85 years, genetics experts from CIRAD and their partners have built varietal creation programmes for rice, citrus fruits, banana, sorghum, groundnut, rubber, and roots and tubers. Starting with that basic genetic material (known as “pre-breeding” material), we can help you to breed, improve and propagate varieties tailored to your constraints and to introduce them in the field.

Adapting to climate change

Which species will prove resilient to climate change (temperature spikes, late frosts, irregular rainfall)? From seed gardens to consumers, through processors and distributors, this question concerns entire food chains. For support tailored to your requirements, you can count on the expertise of CIRAD’s ecophysiologists and modellers and its Abiophen greenhouse and ecophysiology platform. We can also assist with the regulatory aspects of your projects: compliance with the Nagoya protocol, certification, patent applications, etc.

Plant imaging

How can you resolve a technical hitch or confirm the effects of an input? The plant imaging facility offered by our plant histophysiology and imaging platform (PHIV) can help you to overcome technical obstacles by visualizing what happens at the heart of a plant as it grows. You can find out more about how to use our laboratory and other types of expertise in our catalogue.

Protecting crops and soils

International exchanges have paved the way for the spread of pests and diseases, which has been exacerbated by climate change. Farmers and professional federations, primarily input suppliers, need to tackle the many threats to crops.

Studying pests and diseases

To build effective solutions, it is important to understand the varieties grown, potential pests and diseases, and interactions between plants, pests and the growing environment. CIRAD can offer its expertise in a range of plant value chains (both food and non-food). Using our collections of strains from all over the world, you can test the efficacy of phytosanitary products before launching them on the market.
The IBiSA-approved Plant Protection Platform (3P) in Réunion is devoted to the protection of tropical crops and natural environments. It facilitates technology and knowledge transfers: screening tests, plant decontamination, and micropropagation. Students – interns and PhD students – are received within the framework of their studies or of R&D projects with our socioeconomic partners.

Promoting biocontrol and environmentally friendly options

By working with our partners to identify combinations of plants and molecules that repel pests and diseases, our researchers help to build integrated solutions. In addition to technical aspects, we measure the social and environmental impacts: resistance, persistence, effect on biodiversity, etc.

Soil fertility, a major issue for sustainability

Without fertile soils – and the microorganisms to feed them – crops cannot be grown. CIRAD experts are working on plant root development in relation to nutrient and water uptake. They are also studying microorganisms, their functions, and the interactions between them and with plants.
To foster innovation in this sector, we can host your staff at our platforms:

  • the ecophysiology platform, which analyses root development in the light of climate change, studying plant growth in different environments, high-resolution imaging of processes and modelling, to prepare for scenarios;
  • the LSTM transfer and innovation platform, the fruit of cooperation between CIRAD and IRD, which develops ecological engineering tools centring on microbial biofertilizer management. The aim is to improve plant growth in degraded environments and reduce synthetic fertilizer and pesticide use.

Optimizing ecosystem performance

Agroecological models are more resilient to climate change and health challenges, and help preserve soils. How can value chain stakeholders adopt more sustainable practices?

Helping value chains with their practices

CIRAD is convinced that there is no such thing as a universal solution, and works in a participatory way with all the stakeholders in a given value chain, context and area. Our experts work on annual crops (sugarcane, cotton, rice), tree crops (oil palm, rubber, cocoa, coffee and coconut), horticulture and fruit production (notably banana and pineapple).
Cirad’Innov can intervene at various points in your value chain, from field to processing, to boost the technical and environmental performance of agricultural production operations and the social dimension of your projects.

  • We work with agricultural federations and large-scale farmers to support the development of technical knowledge: optimum crop combinations, rational input use, transfer to farming communities;
  • At the interface between farmers and importers or processors, we work to optimize postharvest operations: assessing optimum harvesting time and mastering techniques and fruit storage and ripening conditions;
  • On a territory level, we help to structure the upper parts of value chains: technical support for the creation of cooperatives, market regulation;
  • We work with cooperatives and processors to find innovative ways of boosting the market potential of processed products and their by-products.

Promoting quality and participatory systems

How can you foster producer loyalty and secure supplies? Which labels and organizational systems guarantee both quality products and sustainable practices? By means of rationales that bolster your corporate social responsibility, we can help you to include farms higher up in value chains.

CIRAD has internationally recognized expertise in co-constructing or advising on labels, whether they relate to:

  • origin or terroir: PGI (protected geographical indication), AOC
  • sustainability: FSC International, RSPO
  • fair trade and organic farming
  • or PGS (participatory guarantee systems).

In addition to helping you to structure value chains, in connection with certification practices, we can assist you in your relations with local authorities: obtaining labels, defining the necessary management, control and training structures, and regulations to reduce the risks of counterfeiting.

Want to find out more about how we can support your R&D operations? Contact us.