Promoting human resources cooperation with partners in international agricultural research

Project description

Title: Developing capacity at international agricultural research centres by despatching integrated experts
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Global
Overall term: 2016 to 2020

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The challenges facing the global agricultural and food sector remain numerous and complex. By 2050, some two billion more people will be living on Earth than now, the majority of them in developing countries. Despite regional successes in combating famine and poverty, the number of undernourished and malnourished people is increasing, including in emerging economies and industrialised countries. At the same time, fertile soil is being lost through erosion, construction and inappropriate land management. Biodiversity is under threat. The effects of climate change are exacerbating the problems by spreading new animal and plant diseases and extreme weather phenomena such as drought, torrential rain and floods. Changing consumer habits and a sustained trend towards urbanisation are leading to further food losses in transport, processing, trade and consumption. To overcome these challenges, continuous adjustment measures and innovative solutions are required. These range from breeding drought-tolerant varieties to climate-intelligent cultivation methods and alternative products for plant protection and animal health. The development of digital applications for improved information-sharing and knowledge transfer also play an important role.


The partners of international agricultural research have the necessary human resources and partnerships to develop and disseminate agricultural innovations for resource-efficient farming.



The project places German and other European experts as needed in development-relevant positions in the 15 agricultural research centres of the global partnership for a food-secure future (CGIAR). The project continues to place experts at the World Vegetable Center and the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE). The research centres employ the experts under local terms and conditions. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH supplements the income of the European experts by means of salary subsidies and social contributions, prepares them for their work and offers advice and security in the country of assignment in the event of crisis.

The choice of places and applicants is made according to demand and partner and takes into account the possibilities of cooperation and networking with other technical cooperation projects.

GIZ’s partner in Germany is the International Placement Service (ZAV), which is part of the German Federal Employment Agency and specialises in placing experts and managers on the international labour market. GIZ and the ZAV jointly run the Centre for International Migration and Development (CIM) in Eschborn. During the assignment period, GIZ documents the results of the cooperation and supports the knowledge management measures.


  • From 2016 to 2019 a total of 37 integrated experts were placed in partner centres in 20 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The results of this cooperation arise through the qualification of scientific staff in the research centres and the future dissemination of suitable agricultural innovations in farming practices. 
  • In a few cases, the work of the experts has led to the creation of completely new structures in the research landscape. For example, the integrated expert at the ICIPE insect research centre in Kenya created the first research laboratory to combat nematodes (roundworms) in Africa:
  • The research team identified several local species of nematode for the first time – which cause great damage to potato crops – and were able to develop suitable ecological defensive measures.
  • In the meantime, 19 young scientists have been trained at the ICIPE in cooperation with the University of Ghent and advice has been provided to over 2,000 farmers.

In Viet Nam, a team of experts was created at CIAT, another member of the CGIAR partnership, to assess the new climate risks for agriculture stakeholders in eight countries in the region. They are evaluating the data to supply a detailed basis for climate-intelligent policy and investment advice. This innovative method was presented at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Katowice in 2018.

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Additional information