MEXICO – The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and CGIAR’s International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish the Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils (VACS) initiative. 

This partnership promotes diverse, nutritious, and climate-adapted crops grown in healthy soils. The new VACS Support Cell, a dedicated team, will coordinate efforts, mobilize resources, and facilitate knowledge sharing to advance the global VACS strategy. 

This initiative, launched by the U.S. Department of State in partnership with the African Union and FAO in 2023, focuses on leveraging opportunity crops and building healthy soils to enhance agricultural resilience to climate change and improve diets.

By joining forces with CGIAR and CIMMYT, we bring together our collective capacities to build strong momentum and a platform to advance the VACS,” said FAO’s Director-General QU Dongyu. “VACS effectively brings together the Four Betters set out in the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31: better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life – leaving no one behind.”

CIMMYT’s Director General, Bram Govaerts, echoed this sentiment, highlighting the importance of resilient seeds and climate-smart cropping systems aligning with their 2030 Strategy. 

We are proud to stand united with FAO, whose excellent track record on policy work and networking with national governments will help equip farmers with resilient seed and climate-smart cropping systems that regenerate, rather than degrade, the soils on which their diets and livelihoods depend,” he said.

The VACS initiative supports various activities, including the Quick Wins Seed Systems Project in Africa, which promotes the adoption of climate-resilient dryland grains and legumes. 

It helps smallholders access seeds of local nutritious crops like pearl millet, finger millet, and mung bean and connects them with markets and agri-services. The VACS Fellows program also trains African breeding professionals, strengthening regional agrifood systems.

In Central America, InnovaHubs partners with CGIAR, Mexico, and Norway to connect farmers with markets, technologies, and high-quality seeds.

FAO, through its work, including as part of the International Network on Soil Fertility and Fertilizers (INSOILFER) and the Soil Mapping for Resilient Agrifood Systems (SoilFER) project, assists members with implementing sustainable and balanced soil fertility management for food security. 

The new joint VACS Partnership will support, coordinate, and amplify the impact of all VACS stakeholders through various functions, including developing and maintaining a VACS strategy, mobilizing resources, coordinating donors and implementers, engaging stakeholders, shaping policy environments, managing communications, and tracking results.

By combining the expertise and mandates of CIMMYT and FAO, the VACS Partnership is set to lead efforts in coordinating, growing, and strengthening the VACS movement across a wide range of public and private stakeholders.

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