Seasons Greetings from Mr. Aly Abousabaa, CGIAR CWANA Regional Director and ICARDA Director General
Dec 16 2021
As CGIAR Regional Director for Central and West Asia, and North Africa (CWANA) and ICARDA’s Director General, I am writing to thank you for your support and efforts over 2021 in the face of challenges such as intensifying climate change, the global COVID-19 pandemic, and continuing social challenges across the region. With your help, our work proceeded without interruption to fulfill our obligations to you, the farmers we serve, and stakeholders on the ground. • Despite these considerable obstacles, I am deeply encouraged by global efforts to draw attention to the climate crisis. High-profile events such as COP26 made imperfect but significant steps forward, recognizing the role of climate-smart agriculture while raising vital global awareness of the climate danger we are all in. I look forward to further progress at COP27 hosted in my home country of Egypt. • CGIAR, under which ICARDA operates, also received strong endorsement this year in the form of pledged funding totaling more than one billion USD towards its portfolio of new science global innovation that will be instrumental in addressing CWANA regional challenges now and in the future. ICARDA itself continued to receive recognition and awards throughout the year. • On that note, I am thrilled to see CGIAR’s new science innovations bearing fruit. Built on four decades of proven innovation, our new, cutting edges approaches are the critical ingredient to shake up business-as-usual food systems and address today’s complex and shifting challenges for which yesterday’s methods are no longer adequate. Thanks to your fantastic support, I see more projects integrating novel ICT such as satellite observation, databases, smartphone apps, and cloud-based knowledge-sharing. This new tech helps us to understand, deliver, build capacities, and scale up innovation such as better farming water use, carbon sequestration, income-generating activities, and knowledge pools that farming communities themselves create and share. And new cloud-based approaches are standardizing global terminology and methods that open up vast depositories of genetic material and agricultural knowledge. • ‘Mechanical’ tech continues to feature, for example the futuristically named Physiotron – a phenotyping platform to speed up understanding of genetic traits in indigenous plants. We are also filling a critical regional knowledge gap by measuring the exact water needs of key regional crops through cutting-edge evapotranspiration technology. And small but not insignificant machines like seed spreaders are saving hours of labor for small-plot women farmers. • These new ICT and mechanical approaches compliment equally groundbreaking social research on farmers’ market needs and prices, the important role of women farmers as men migrate away, and how investment in agricultural science improves economies and income, especially for women. • While our core work on Improved Crops, Land, Soils and Water, and Agro-silvopastoral systems must continue, I believe our ‘new science’ is vital to ensure our research remains in the race to tackle today’s intensifying challenges and demands. • CGIAR and its partnership network are evolving and reformulating. I’m counting on a future where alongside our sister CGIAR centers, better integration, efficiency, impact, and incredible innovation will take place to improve the lives of the family farming communities we serve in the CWANA Region. But time is running out. Let’s maintain the momentum of 2021 and make sure that we continue to build back even better. I wish you warm Season’s Greetings and all the best for 2022.
Aly Abousabaa • CGIAR Regional Director Central and West Asia, and North Africa ICARDA Director General