According to the Millennium Development Goals Report of 2013, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty (less than US $1.25 a day) has been halved at the global level, yet 1.2 billion people still live in extreme poverty.1 In 1992, the United Nations (UN) established the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (IDEP), which will be observed internationally for the 22nd time on October 17, 2014, to “promote awareness of the need to eradicate poverty and destitution in all countries.”
The theme for IDEP 2014 is “leave no one behind: think, decide and act together against extreme poverty,” which “recognizes and underscores the demanding challenge of identifying and securing the participation of those experiencing extreme poverty and social exclusion in the Post-2015 Development Agenda that will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).”2 The eradication of poverty was one of the chief MDGs, and remains at the forefront of the development of the post-2015 development agenda.
Agricultural development is critical in the fight to eradicate poverty, and CIMMYT has developed and designed its programs and projects to contribute to this effort. The work done at CIMMYT to improve the yields of maize and wheat, increase their tolerance to climate change, fight pests and diseases and add higher nutritional value to crops has helped to eradicate poverty by improving the livelihoods of farmers and their families as well as their nutrition and health.
The UN highlights that 17 October also serves as an important reminder to acknowledge the effort and struggle of people living in poverty as well as promoting opportunities for them to make their concerns heard. “Poor people are the first ones to fight against poverty. Participation of the poor themselves has been at the center of the Day’s celebration since its very beginning,” CIMMYT works with its donors and partners to assist smallholder farmers in developing countries, generating solutions to the issues they face with their active input and participation. The mission of CIMMYT, to “sustainably increase the productivity of maize and wheat systems to ensure global food security and reduce poverty,” cannot be realized without the efforts and cooperation of farmers, scientists, researchers and staff working together across the developing world to improve agriculture and eradicate poverty.