CGIAR Regional Program for Central Asia and the Caucasus (CAC), initiated in 1998, operates as a consortium of the Centers of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), led by the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA). For many years the program has been successful in collaborating with local and international research institutions, public organizations, universities, farmers’ associations and other groups of partners. Bringing forward the on-going fruitful cooperation, this article is about a range of recent activities and achievements that took place in the region.
Held on 29 February to 2 March 2016 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, the International Conference on Eurasian Food Security and Nutrition Network and Eurasian Soil Partnership brought together stakeholders from all 8 countries of the CAC region, as well as other parts of the world. During the conference Dr. Kamel Shideed, Assistant Director General for International Cooperation and Communications of ICARDA, led a plenary session on the "Role of international organizations in promoting agricultural research, food and nutrition security in the Central Asia and the Caucasus".
Making a presentation on “ICARDA in Central Asia and the Caucasus: History of Collaboration and Achievements”, Dr. Shideed emphasized the high importance of fostering current and future cooperation towards sustainable agricultural research in the region. In line with this, Dr. Richard Thomas, Director of the CRP Dryland Systems, presented ICARDA's new strategy for the CAC region. Dr. Botir Dosov presented a new video production on "What is an Innovation Platform" to provide a better understanding of the important roles that different actors play in agricultural research and development.
Strengthening partnership platform with national academic institutions, their staff and students, CAC program scientists organized a series of events. Tashkent State Agrarian University (TSAU) students participated in the meeting on the role of young professionals in the development of agricultural science (YPARD) organized by CAC Forum for Agricultural Research and Innovations (CACAARI) on 16 February. Young audience were provided guidelines on YPARD, encouraging the new generation of agricultural researchers. In another event, teachers of the Tashkent Institute of Irrigation and Melioration (TIIM) took part in presentation sessions of Dr. Karthikeyan Matheswaran Post-Doc of IWMI and Mr. Zafar Gafurov in the workshop on "Capacity building of academic teachers" held on February 8 at TIIM, Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
On 25 February, in the framework of CACILM II project, ICARDA launched educational and practical video materials about pistachio trees during a roundtable participated by over 100 farmers and scientific community of Uzbekistan. Within January-February, The World Vegetable Centre (AVRDC) submitted four new tomato varieties ('Yutuk', 'Fazilat', 'Rubin', 'Kurkam'), eggplant variety ‘Parizot’ and sweet potato variety ‘Khusbuy’ to the State Testing Commission of Uzbekistan. Two new varieties of eggplant ‘Tukhfa’ and marrow (patisson) ‘Gayrat’ were included in the State Register. Varieties were developed at the Research Institute of Plant Industry.
Complementing the above mentioned achievements and newly launched projects, International Water Management Institute (IWMI) in partnership with GIZ and Council for Research and Economics in Agriculture (CREA) will be implementing European Union Programme "Sustainable management of water resources in rural areas in Uzbekistan" for the period 2016-2020. In the context of changing climate, the project aims at improvement of water supply and efficiency of water management at national, basin and farm levels.
Another project - “Use of Non-Conventional Agricultural Water Resources to Strengthen Water and Food Security in the Transboundary Watersheds of the Amu Darya River Basin” - launched by International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), applies an integrated approach to transboundary watershed management in the environmentally vulnerable sub-basins of the Amu Darya River basin to address water resources availability, water quality deterioration, land degradation and ecosystem loss. Project activities will be implemented in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. In February, the project was presented at the National Academy of Sciences workshop in Washington DC, USA.
As a final note, the year 2016 started with appointment of Prof. Dr. Ram Sharma, a wheat breeder working in the CAC since 2008, as the Head of the CGIAR Program Facilitation Unit and ICARDA Regional Coordinator. He is set to continue active networking, and further strengthening the national and international collaboration with research and development partners for the continuous success of the CAC Regional Program.