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Former U.S.S.R.: Agricultural Research Group Expands Eastward

Washington, 4 November 1996 (RFE/RL) -- CGIAR, the largest international agricultural research consortium, has decided to expand its focus to include Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

The decision was made by leaders and members of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research participating in the group's annual meetings at the World Bank in Washington last week. They agreed to begin expanding and formalizing ties with the national agricultural research systems and centers in the former communist nations.

In addition, CGIAR is urging the 16 international agricultural research centers it coordinates and helps support around the world to establish cooperative programs with existing centers in these countries. It also seeks to assist them with "restructuring and improving operating effectiveness of national research systems."

The chairman of CGIAR, World Bank Vice President Ismail Serageldin, says there is no current plan to try to make any of the national research centers in Eastern and Central Europe or the former U.S.S.R. independent international centers. But he says the group has allocated $5 million over the next year to help with strengthening existing ties.

Romania and Russia are already among 53 nations and international organizations which are members of CGIAR. The Czech Republic and Estonia participate as regional representatives. The organization is sponsored by the United Nations and the World Bank.