Catholic Relief Services Enters Agreement to Bring Agricultural Innovations to Millions of Farmers

IITA, CIAT and CRS join forces to use research to transform farmers’ lives


Contact: Tom Price
Catholic Relief Services
(410) 951-7450

BALTIMORE, MD, October 17, 2017 – Today, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) announced a new memorandum of understanding between the three agencies. IITA and CIAT are two of the world’s leading research institutes in the field of tropical agriculture. The MOU strengthens the relationships between the agencies and will take IITA and CIAT’s agricultural innovations to scale to achieve widespread transformative impact in the lives of millions of smallholder farmers by deepening the focus on research and evidence-based programming.

The signing will take place at the Marriot Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, on October 17, 2017.

“At a time when three-quarters of the world’s poor live in rural areas and rely on agriculture for their food security and livelihoods, IITA, CIAT and CRS are seeking innovative ways to strengthen the bridge between research and implementation,” said Michele Broemmelsiek, vice president for overseas operations at CRS. “This collaboration allows CRS to both expand and deepen the impact of our programs with the latest advancements in agricultural science.”

The new formal relationship builds on over a decade of collaboration between the agencies. CIAT and CRS work to improve market access for farmers and in distributing naturally improved seed systems, new knowledge and best practices to improve what, where and when smallholder farmers plant.

IITA works with CRS in many countries across Africa testing new improved varieties of staple crops such as maize, cowpeas, cassava and yam. IITA also works on eliminating biological bottlenecks in the productivity of crops, such as the development of a biocontrol product called Aflasafe™ against aflatoxins in maize and groundnut, and its commercialization in IITA’s Business Incubation Platform. This is now helping some African countries go back to trade in groundnuts and maize, and making food supplies safer for Africans.

“We are excited to strengthen our longstanding partnership with CRS,” said Ruben G. Echeverría, director general of CIAT. “Together with IITA, we will work to enable smallholders in the global tropics to have sustainable livelihoods, farms that are resilient to the changing climate, and improved access to nutritious food.”

“It is important to mention that both IITA and CIAT are 50 years old this year,” according to Kwesi Atta-Krah, IITA’s director for country alignment and systems integration. “IITA, working in partnership with CRS, CIAT and other institutions, aims to intensify the transformative focus of its research through massive scaling out efforts, which will impact the changing livelihoods of farmers and the economies of African countries over the next 50-year cycle.”

IITA works with partners to enhance crop quality and productivity, reduce producer and consumer risks, and generate wealth from agriculture, with the ultimate goals of reducing hunger, malnutrition, and poverty. For more information go to

CIAT is a not-for-profit research and development organization dedicated to making agriculture eco-efficient – competitive and profitable as well as sustainable and resilient. Eco-efficient agriculture reduces hunger and poverty, improves nutrition, and offers solutions to environmental degradation and climate change in the tropics. For more information go to

In 2016, CRS reached more than 9.6 million people with agricultural improvement projects in 13 countries. You can learn more at

Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, visit or and follow Catholic Relief Services on social media: Facebook, Twitter at @CatholicRelief, @CRSnews and @CRSnoticias, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.

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