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CGIAR breeding programs need more than just tech upgrades. They need change management

The status quo anchors our minds to the past. Good change management can shake this up. Here are four ways plant breeding programs can ready themselves for the big changes we need to make.

Did you know that vehicles with steering wheels on the left are often cheaper to make than right hand-drive cars? They are mass-produced in much larger batches. But many drivers and governments were just unwilling to change to this dominant design.

We humans are not so adept at change. Instead of embracing novel ways of thinking, we’d rather stick to the old ones. We cling onto what is safe, what is familiar, or what we are already good at. We see this in the workplace, in our personal lives, and in society as a whole. The world still can’t agree on using the metric system! 

Within the domain of plant breeding, we are both driving and responding to rapid change. It is mesmerizing to visualize the changes gene editing is about to deliver, not to mention what genomic prediction is already delivering. We are being challenged on every single aspect of plant breeding. 

Change of a different sort is about to cascade through the world’s main network of agricultural research centers – which includes centers at the global forefront of plant breeding. CGIAR is embarking on a transition into a much more integrated “One CGIAR” organization. 

An overarching goal of this integration is no other than to ensure breeding improvement plans – and the changes they aim to drive – are implemented as seamlessly and quickly as possible. The Excellence in Breeding Platform is both driving and supporting this change among CGIAR centers and international and national partners.

Visit Excellence in Breeding Platform to read the full blog.

Read more about IRRI's work on Rice Breeding.

Hugo Campos is the Chair of the CGIAR Excellence in Breeding (EiB) Platform Steering Committee and Director of Research for the International Potato Center (CIP). This blog was developed with support from EiB’s communications lead Adam Hunt.This is the second in a series of blogs on change in the breeding domain. See the first. Photo: ICRISAT research by Michael Major/Global Crop Diversity Trust.