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Improving food security and farmers’ livelihood through more productive and sustainable crops
Hands holding seed in a field

The Crops Program addresses Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1 and 2 with due regard for other SDGs through two complementary and integrated threads: “Genetics” and “Sustainable Intensification and Diversification”. Many projects associate both threads, exploring together the use of improved varieties and new crop management methods. 

Within the Genetics theme, projects address specific issues (crop diseases), or emphasise building the capacity of breeding programs (“modernisation”). Projects do not have as a main activity plant breeding towards varietal release but will put in place partnerships to facilitate the release and dissemination of improved germplasm. Projects identify genes for important traits and facilitating their introduction in breeding lines. Variety release can also be a direct outcome of the discovery work. 

Sustainable Intensification and Diversification projects consider the productivity, profitability and resilience from the whole cropping system. They design, test and disseminate cropping system innovations using farming systems research methods, with the aim of increasing productivity, returns and sustainability of targeted systems. Concentration of poverty in rural areas, migration out of farming, the increasing gap between urban and rural incomes, and lower growth for agriculture compared to the overall economy, all challenge family farming as a viable, profitable and satisfying pursuit. The Program explores sustainable intensification as one response to this question. 

Research Program Manager: Dr Eric Huttner