A brief introduction, from Robin Buruchara, Regional Director for Africa

2 September, 2015 by (comments)

This editorial from Robin Buruchara, Regional Director for Africa, welcomes readers to the first CIAT Africa e-Newsletter, published on 6 September 2015. 

Robin Buruchara webOver the last year I have met with many valued partners, donors and stakeholders – both new and old. And, for me, two recurring elements from those interactions stand out:

First, that CIAT is in a very privileged position. We have been fortunate to build strong and valued relationships with partners that have enabled us to conduct quality science, the results of which have had a lasting impact for smallholder farmers across the region. It makes me proud to lead the Centre’s work in sub-Saharan Africa and strive to ensure that we continue to deliver and improve.

Secondly, the surprise in people’s faces when I explain the breadth of CIAT’s research and expertise on the continent is heartening. Many of our partners may know us for our research on specific commodities, such as beans, yet are less aware of our research in other areas.

Therefore, in the interests of keeping you better informed of our work, I have the pleasure of welcoming you to the first quarterly CIAT Africa e-newsletter.

In this first issue, we go back to the beginnings of CIAT in Africa and its evolution into what it is today.

My connection with the Centre dates back to my student days in 1979, and as an employee for the last 24 years. I have seen this evolution first hand. Not only in our growth (from a few staff based in one country to 160 staff in 10 countries and working with partners across 30), but also in our research, as we respond to meet the challenges and needs of the continent.

Where CIATs work in Africa began with beans, today we also conduct research across soils, forages and policy, with experts in climate change, nutrition, markets and seed systems among others.

Of course some things have remained the same since the beginning. I have always known CIAT to put partnerships at the centre of the way it works, and this is especially so in Africa. The Pan-Africa Bean Research Alliance (PABRA) is a testament to this.

It is these elements – our products, the way we work and our response to Africa’s challenges – that fuel my conviction that CIAT is making a difference. And, that we can continue to make a significant and valuable contribution to improving food and nutrition security for our farmers, reducing poverty and building resilience to climate change through sustainable resource management.

For me, the proof that we are on the right track is not only in the number or frequency of our scientific publications, which of course are important for a research organisation. It is also in what I call ‘human publications’ – the stories of how our work and that of our partners is helping the people we strive to help.

For example, the old lady who once told me: ‘To me, you are my son because of what you have done. I didn’t ask you to come, but you did and with new beans that grow where our old ones do not,’ or a national partner who said ‘I really value the way CIAT works with us as partners’.

These are the people that encourage me. After all, if we aren’t making a difference to their lives, what are we doing here?

By Dr. Robin Buruchara, Regional Director for Africa, CIAT


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Filed Under: Inside Africa, Inside CIAT