Expansion of an international crop research program




The McKnight Foundation's Collaborative Crop Research Program (CCRP) is a competitive grant program that funds research and development work in selected parts of the world where rural families face hunger and malnutrition. The work was recently re-focused on four "hunger hot-spots," and we are developing project clusters to take a systems approach to confronting food insecurity.


Hunger and malnutrition are present at unacceptably high levels in the selected regions. The problem is becoming more acute with contemporary trends in climate, energy and population, and the state of the natural resource base. Crop research can play an important role in increasing the availability of food, people's livelihoods (and thus their economic access to food) and their nutritional status. Improving productivity is necessary to achieve these improvements but is not sufficient. We therefore support projects addressing a variety of dimensions of the problem and work with the research teams to integrate their collective efforts in such a way that food security and agricultural sustainability are increased.


We have secured commitments from both The McKnight Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for long-term support for the program. This has doubled the resources available to the CCRP for grant-making and program support. We have expanded the program staffing, undertaken a cycle of strategic planning and initiated a new set of project solicitations. In 2008, program activities included the following:
April 6-12, 2008: Workshop on experimental design and data analysis held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
April 14-17, 2008: Second meeting of the CCRP's West Africa Community of Practice held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
April 29-May 1, 2008: Workshop on the Impacts of Climate Change in the Andes held by CIP in Lima, Peru
May 12-16, 2008: Workshop on Statistical Analysis and Experimental Design held by World Neighbors in Quito, Ecuador
May 29, 2008: Rebecca Nelson traveled to Minneapolis to meet with new CCRP international programs director (MIPD)
July 1-3, 2008: Rebecca Nelson traveled to Minneapolis for meetings with MIPD at The McKnight Foundation
July 14-19, 2008: Fourth meeting of the CCRP's Andean Community of Practice held in Cochabamba, Bolivia
October 6-9, 2008: Second meeting of the CCRP's Southern Africa Community of Practice held in Maputo, Mozambique
December 16, 2008: McKnight International Programs/IMEP meeting held in Minneapolis, Minn.


Regional and topical "communities of practice" have been strengthened in the high Andes (Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia), West Africa (Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger), southern Africa (Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania) and East and Horn of Africa (Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia). Two-person teams are now in place to support grant clusters in each region, and new cycles of grant-making are under development. These projects are leading to the development and release of new crop varieties, seed systems to reach resource-poor small-holders, strengthening of farmer organizations and improved rural livelihoods and nutrition.

Submitted by: 

  • Nelson, Rebecca J

Researchers involved: 

  • Nelson, Rebecca J
  • Bulkeley, Kelly A

International focus: 

  • Bolivia
  • Burkina Faso
  • China
  • Ecuador
  • United Kingdom
  • Ethiopia
  • Kenya
  • Laos
  • Malawi
  • Mali
  • Mozambique
  • Niger
  • Peru
  • United Republic of Tanzania
  • Thailand
  • Uganda
  • United States of America

United States focus: 

  • Michigan
  • New York