FAO and CIMMYT Partner to Strengthen Resilient Agrifood Systems

FAO and CIMMYT Partner to Strengthen Resilient Agrifood Systems

Rome/Texcoco, Mexico  (Press Release) – In a significant move towards building resilient agrifood systems, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), a CGIAR Research Center, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a Partnership for the Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils (VACS) initiative.

The joint partnership aims to spearhead efforts to coordinate, grow, and strengthen the VACS movement among a diverse range of public and private stakeholders. The initiative focuses on promoting diverse, nutritious, and climate-adapted crops grown in healthy soils to enhance food security and nutrition in the face of climate change.

“By joining forces with the CGIAR and CIMMYT, we bring together our collective capacities to build a strong momentum and platform to advance the VACS,” said FAO Director-General QU Dongyu. “VACS effectively brings together the Four Betters set out in the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31: better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life – leaving no one behind.”

CIMMYT Director General Bram Govaerts emphasized the partnership’s alignment with their 2030 Strategy, which aims to enhance agrifood systems’ nutritional value and climate resilience. “We are proud to stand united, through VACS, with FAO, whose excellent track record on policy work and networking with national governments will help equip farmers with resilient seed and climate-smart cropping systems that regenerate, rather than degrade, the soils on which their diets and livelihoods depend,” Govaerts stated.

Launched in 2023 by the U.S. Department of State in partnership with the African Union and FAO, the VACS movement focuses on sustainable and resilient agrifood systems. It leverages opportunity crops and healthy soils to enhance agricultural resilience and improve diets. Crops such as sorghum, millet, cowpea, and mung bean, which are vital for food security and nutrition under climate change, are central to this initiative.

Since its inception, VACS has supported numerous activities, including the Quick Wins Seed Systems Project in Africa, which promotes climate-resilient dryland grains and legumes. It helps smallholders access seeds of local nutritious crops like pearl millet, finger millet, and mung bean and connects them with markets and agri-services. The VACS Fellows program trains African breeding professionals, enhancing regional agrifood systems. In Central America, InnovaHubs partner with CGIAR, Mexico, and Norway to connect farmers with markets, technologies, and high-quality seeds. FAO’s initiatives, such as the International Network on Soil Fertility and Fertilizers (INSOILFER) and the Soil mapping for resilient agrifood systems (SoilFER) project, assist in sustainable soil fertility management for food security.

The FAO-CIMMYT partnership aims to support, coordinate, and amplify the impact of all VACS stakeholders through various functions:

  • Strategy: Developing and maintaining a VACS strategy, mission, objectives, and approach.
  • Resource Mobilization: Working with donors to increase investments in VACS-aligned work.
  • Donor and Implementer Coordination: Coordinating efforts among major VACS donors and implementers.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: Strengthening ties across public and private stakeholders to catalyze action.
  • Shaping the Policy Environment: Developing and advancing a VACS policy agenda.
  • Communications: Elevating the importance of diverse crops and healthy soils for sustainable development goals.
  • Results Management: Tracking progress in achieving VACS objectives.

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