CGIAR Co-Creates and Re-Imagines Positive Food Systems in South Asia

Jun 09 2022

Participants at a high-level meeting in Kathmandu have agreed on strengthened alignment between CGIAR and Nepal’s research and innovation agenda, with a commitment to support Nepalese institutions to respond to growing threats to food systems. 

The CGIAR Research Initiative Introduction and Stakeholder Dialogue held on June 9 also saw the inception of a concrete research and innovation agenda with specific, ambitious deliverables in the area of climate change.

NEXUS Gains: Realizing Multiple Benefits Across Water, Energy, Food and Ecosystems

, which will be achieved through activities including boosting water productivity and storage management, as well as developing capacity for emerging women leaders; 

Sustainable Intensification of Mixed Farming Systems

, which will help smallholder farmers mitigate risks from extreme climate change, and achieve more resilient livelihoods, among other outcomes;

SAPLING: Sustainable Animal Productivity for Livelihoods, Nutrition and Gender Inclusion, which aims to contribute to transforming livestock sectors in target countries.

It is estimated that these initiatives will positively impact livelihoods and productivity for tens of thousands of smallholder farmers over the coming three years. 

The challenges across the region are considerable. South Asia’s predominantly rice-based farming systems are threatened by unsustainable groundwater withdrawal. Natural resource degradation, low resource use efficiency, and agriculture-based air pollution undermine sustainability and human health, contributing to rural out-migration,

labor scarcity and increased production costs. The current food system is failing: for example, in Nepal, over a third of women of reproductive age are anemic. Rising populations, increasing economic inequality, the impact of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic are additional contributing factors to a challenging context for achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in South Asia.

Against this background, representatives from the Nepalese Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation, the

to consider research, capacity and advocacy priorities and how to achieve maximum impact through CGIAR’s systems approach.

, Global Director, Resilient Agri-Food Systems, CGAIR

“I want to thank our partners in Nepal and South Asia, whose expertise, commitment and collaboration are vital to transforming food, land and water systems across the region. The One CGIAR reform will position the organization to deliver more impact for Nepalese farmers through a holistic ‘systems’ approach to research and innovation. At the same time, we are committed to help build capacity in institutions here in Nepal, to meet increased threats to food security and grow research and innovation.”

In his opening remarks, Dr. Deepak Bhandari, Executive Director, Nepal Agricultural research Council (NARC),welcomed the CGIAR research portfolio and said: “Nepal’s agriculture sector should be given priority to boost its economy. Also, the import restrictions should be carefully deliberated as Nepal is highly dependent on imported agricultural products.

The initiatives launched today will leverage innovative use of data, state-of-the-art analytics, and deep and ongoing dialogue with national, regional, and global partners.”

emphasized that agricultural transformation is impossible without water. Nepal has witnessed several natural disasters, thus slowing down the whole process of development. He appreciated CGIAR’s efforts and said: “This integrated vision and innovative research to solve climate issues is commendable and will help Nepal go upwards, specifically in the rural areas.”

A panel discussion on “Science & Innovation that advances transformation of food, land, and water systems in a climate crisis” also took place, moderated by Dr. Sushil Pandey, Agricultural Economist.

  Panelists discussed the lack of innovation, knowledge gaps, structural problems of farmers, measures for capacity building of smallholder farmers, and the implementation of agricultural policies in Nepal.

“Today 70% of women contribute to agriculture, but nothing is being done to reduce their workload; while mechanization is being actively promoted, it is not researched if these technologies are appropriate for women. They should have the right to decide what technology is suitable for them,” said Dr. Yamuna Ghale, Food Security, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Expert


“We are incredibly energized and motivated coming out of this meeting. CGIAR with its partners in Nepal will harness digital technologies to optimize timely decision-making across food, land, and water systems for maximum impact. We are committed to a transformation that bridges the gender and urban-rural digital divides, as well as the challenges that are unique to Nepal’s mountainous regions, while promoting equitable access to high-calibre information and systems.”

The event was jointly organized by CGIAR and its Research Centers in Nepal,

with national government partners, including NARC, the Department of Water Resources and Irrigation, and the Department of Agriculture. T

he International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), The Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT (International Center for Tropical Agriculture), and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)

Media contact

: Dr. Manohara Khadka, Country Representative, IWMI, email: 

CGIAR is a global research partnership for a food-secure future. CGIAR science is dedicated to transforming food, land, and water systems in a climate crisis. Its research is carried out by 13 CGIAR Centers/Alliances in close collaboration with hundreds of partners, including national and regional research institutes, civil society organizations, academia, development organizations and the private sector.

We would like to thank all Funders who support this research through their contributions to the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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Foresight and Metrics to Accelerate Inclusive and Sustainable Agrifood System Transformation

Sustainable Intensification of Mixed Farming Systems

Sustainable Animal Productivity for Livelihoods, Nutrition and Gender Inclusion

Plant Health and Rapid Response to Protect Food Security and Livelihoods

Source: CGIAR | News