Climate change, land degradation and the loss of biodiversity are having an increasingly negative impact on agricultural production and food supplies. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this situation and current developments related to the war in Ukraine clearly show how vulnerable and interdependent the global food supply chains are. Since mid-February, for example, the price of wheat has more than doubled and various staple crops are becoming globally short in supply.
In view of these challenges, investments in research on food systems are particularly relevant. Switzerland therefore supports the work of the Global Agricultural Research Partnership for a food-secure future (CGIAR).
The CGIAR is an international consortium of agricultural research centres in more than 80 countries. It is one of 15 priority organisations for Swiss multilateral development cooperation. Every year, it develops hundreds of innovations in collaboration with local scientists and smallholder farmers in order to benefit poor farmers and consumers. It also provides researchers around the world with gene banks of the main crops.
Switzerland's partnership with the CGIAR also supports projects carried out jointly with Swiss scientific institutions, which boost expertise and innovation in agricultural research. For example, researchers at ETH Zurich and the CGIAR are currently working on a circular economy system between cities and rural areas, where the farmers are given access to organic fertilisers produced from urban waste. This enables them to increase production for disadvantaged urban populations and tackle various sanitation issues at the same time.
A scientific study conducted in 2020 showed that agricultural research delivers among the highest returns on investment. The study found that every Swiss franc donated to CGIAR research resulted in a tenfold return for developing countries and smallholder farmers. The research carried out by the CGIAR helps to ensure that food systems are more sustainable and millions of people – mostly in low-income countries – have decent livelihoods and access to a wide variety of nutritious food.
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