Food Security for a Billion Poor

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Science  26 Mar 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5973, pp. 1554
DOI: 10.1126/science.1189247

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There are at least 1 billion poor people living with chronic undernourishment, and the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goal of substantially reducing the world's hungry by 2015 will not be met. The developing world's poor are experiencing the effects of higher commodity prices, and declining agricultural productivity growth is exacerbating the problem. Next week, leaders in science and society will convene in Montpellier, France, for the first Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD 2010) to organize sweeping changes in global agricultural research. The meeting follows major reforms of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), endorsed in December 2009. CGIAR's new business model is meant to more effectively address food security, focusing on people, results, and efficiency. “Mega Programs” (now called “Themes”) will deliver research outputs to achieve scaled-up impacts on poverty, and a new fund will harmonize donor contributions to support CGIAR's 15 research centers. But the total global investment in public-sector agricultural research is 20 times greater than that of CGIAR. How to better harness this critical resource (along with private-sector investments) for worldwide poverty reduction will be a major focus for GCARD.