South American Growth Center

bp1The eyes of the world are on Brazil now as world cup soccer kicks off in Sao Paulo. In my latest article for the science research journal Nature, I report on some of the pockets of excellence in South American science. My news feature focusses on research at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), near Cali, Colombia.

Established in 1967, CIAT was one of the first members of the CGIAR consortium of international agriculture research centers. In addition to research on forage and grasses for booming Latin American cattle production, CIAT’s research has improved the breeding of varieties of beans, rice and cassava — staple crops that are important to the food security of the rural poor. Its influence stretches around the world.

“Genetic improvement of these crops has proved to be a powerful weapon for combating hunger and poverty,” says Ruben Echeverría, director-general of CIAT. For example, beans developed by CIAT from Latin American varieties are now feeding up to 30 million people in Africa, according to the center.

You can read the complete Nature news feature here.