CIAT and USDA forging new links

18 February, 2011 by (comments)

Dr Jonathan Lundgren, research entomologist with the Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA-ARS), is visiting CIAT for the next three months to develop collaborations between USDA and CIAT. Here he talks about the background and objectives of his visit.

Dr Jonathan Lundgren of USDA-ARS (right) with CIAT entomologist Dr Kris Wyckhuys.

Over the years, CGIAR and USDA-ARS have collaborated on several research projects. In June 2010, CIAT/CGIAR representatives met with USDA-ARS officials in Beltsville, Maryland, to discuss the strengthening of ties between the two agencies. USDA-ARS drafted and signed a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate the establishment of these interactions (this memorandum is awaiting signature by CGIAR).

Soon afterwards, I received a financial prize via the USDA-ARS Early Career Scientist of the Year Award. I decided to invest the award in developing long-term partnerships in Latin America. The region offers great research opportunities, for its richness in biodiversity together with its growing need for pest management solutions that preserve its ecosystems while promoting food security for local communities. The nascent relationship with CIAT/CGIAR provided a perfect opportunity to achieve this goal.

My specific research focuses on developing systems-level approaches to managing insects and weed pests with minimal reliance on synthetic pesticides. Several ecological processes maintain pests below outbreak levels in natural systems, so my research aims to demonstrate that we can implement these concepts into croplands and provide producers with profitable and sustainable pest management solutions.

Leading the research on the CIAT side will be Dr Kris Wyckhuys, an internationally respected expert in biological control of insect pests. Kris and I work in very different cropping environments but our similar approaches and philosophies to pest management provide an opportunity to develop and promote new ideas regarding the management of pests of importance in Colombia and Latin America.

In addition to promoting collaborations, my mission at CIAT is to identify key areas of potential interactions between the agencies, and act as a contact point for USDA-ARS scientists who also wish to develop partnerships with CIAT scientists.

Although my research focuses on pest management, USDA-ARS has diverse research interests in all aspects of agriculture. Specifically, their mission is to ensure high-quality and safe food and other agricultural products, assess the nutritional needs of US Americans, sustain a competitive agricultural economy, enhance the natural resource base of the environment, and provide economic opportunities for rural citizens, communities, and society as a whole.

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