Promising USDA-FAS scientific fellows join CIAT
U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA-FAS) is working in close collaboration with CIAT and other CGIAR centers to promote food security and economic growth by providing hands-on-research experience for early and mid-career scientists and policymakers.
Through a pilot program, two promising scientists have recently arrived at CIAT’s headquarters in Cali, Colombia to learn new research techniques, gain exposure to the latest scientific developments in agriculture, access fully-equipped laboratories and libraries, and learn about unique public-private partnerships that help fund agricultural research and science.
CIAT in turn is applying their research to strengthen sustainable agricultural practices and global food security, and increase the impacts of ongoing projects.
During his 12-week fellowship, Julian is conducting research on climate-smart agriculture, an approach proposed as a solution to transform and reorient agricultural systems, to ensure food security under the new realities of climate change. Julian has the opportunity to connect with leading scientists from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), which CIAT leads, to boost the reach of his research.
CCAFS collaborations are reaping impressive results in Julian’s home country, Indonesia, where the government for the first time submitted baseline figures for GHG emissions from peatlands as part of the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) scheme.
Darwin had a significantly less arduous journey to Cali, traveling from Santander in northern Colombia. He is advancing a new project to apply research from one locally popular crop – cassava – to another that is particularly celebrated in Santander: cacao, the main ingredient for chocolate.
Darwin is working with CIAT’s genetic transformation platform, and tissue culture and molecular genetic laboratories, to design methods and protocols for propagating and genotyping cacao, using cassava as a model.
Colombia is the third largest producer of cassava in Latin America, after Brazil and Paraguay (FAO, 2004). Similarly, Colombia has major potential for scaling up cacao production, with approximately 2 million hectares of suitable growing area (Corpoica, Fedecacao y el Ministerio de Agricultura y Desarrollo Rural, 2011). There is a significant industry presence in the country, represented mainly by Nacional de Chocolates and Casa Luker, to take innovations forward to transform the chocolate and confectionery sector.