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The 16 centres of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) are international veterans in crop research facing a shake-up in funding and research priorities. Now the centres want to pool resources and expertise to boost small farmers' production round the world.

In this article, Dennis Normile relates how members of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) near Mexico City initiated the idea. The two centres propose a merger, leading to new genomics research labs in India and China, while the others are seeking likely areas of collaboration.

The venture faces problems: some national agricultural research in the developing world is outstripping CGIAR's, for instance. But the vital test is donor response, and coupling genomics research with the centres' existing germplasm banks to forge new crop traits could prove attractive.

Link to full article in Science

Reference: Science 303, 1281 (2004)