Despite wide-ranging, in-depth conservation agriculture (CA) studies conducted over many years, almost none consider gender and gender relations as a factor that may explain low adoption rates, according to the recently published paper “Gender and conservation agriculture in East and Southern Africa: towards a research agenda.” The paper examines research to date on the interactions between CA interventions and gender in East and Southern Africa and sets out a research agenda based on gaps observed. Given the increasing interest in CA due to climate change impacts in the region, the authors also argue that greater attention to gender is needed in order to ensure successful interventions. The following Q&A with one of the study’s authors, Clare Stirling, CIMMYT Senior Scientist with the Sustainable Intensification Program based in Wales, UK, details the study’s findings and what is needed to ensure gender is included in future CA interventions.
Bolivia’s National Agricultural, Livestock and Forestry Innovation Institute (INIAF) and the CIMMYT-Colombia office organized the XXI Latin American Maize Meeting (XXIRLM) held in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, on 29-31 October2015.
The meeting was organized within the agricultural innovation framework around four themes: genetic resources and biotechnology, genetic improvement, special and biofortified maize, and climate change and sustainable agricultural intensification. An expert gave a lecture on each one of the themes, followed by presentations by representatives of the participating institutions, which were reinforced by previously selected posters.
Kew is a world-leading botanical and mycological research institution. At Kew there are over 300 scientists, working on the latest scientific developments in plant and fungal research.
On 20 October, Kew’s Director of Science Kathy Willis, Senior Research Leader on Diversity & Livelihoods Tiziana Ulian, and Director of Development Alison Purvis, along with Patricia Dávila, Director of FESI-UNAM, visited CIMMYT Headquarters to discuss possible joint programs between CIMMYT and Kew. The visit also included presentations on CIMMYT and Kew by Marianne Banziger, CIMMYT Deputy Director General, and Willis, as well as a tour of the Wellhausen-Anderson Plant Genetic Resources Center given by Bibiana Espinosa, Principal Research Assistant.
For the seventh consecutive year, scientists from around the world met at the Kenya Agricultural Livestock Research Organization (KALRO-Njoro) for training on “Standardization of Stem Rust Note-taking and Evaluation of Germplasm.” The week-long course (12-18 October 2015) attracted 32 participants from institutions in 12 countries, including Bangladesh, Egypt, Ethiopia, Hungary, India, Iran, Kenya, Mexico, Nepal, Pakistan, Turkey, and USA.
The course aimed to create awareness of the devastating effects of stem rust race Ug99 on global wheat production; train wheat researchers to use new approaches to fight the rust diseases (including genetics, pathology, breeding, and molecular genetics); and teach them methods for identifying, scoring, and evaluating stem rust both in the field and experimental plots. Practical sessions focused on demonstrating rust methodologies and giving participants hands-on experience in scoring the disease both in the greenhouse and the field. “
Imtiaz Hussain and Ansaar Ahmed
In Pakistan, maize is planted on 0.97 million hectares, of which 0.42 million are located in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). The maize crop in KP is sown predominantly by hand and farmers practice a variety of methods such as broadcast and line sowing. Small farmers broadcast the maize seed and then do a shallow cultivation; however, seed is wasted with this method.
Maize is also line-planted, which involves placing rope or string lengthwise with marks at specific distances. The maize seed is then planted with a hoe in what is known as the Thapa method, which is very labor intensive.
Development and deployment of nutritious maize with higher protein quality (i.e., high content of essential amino acids such as lysine and tryptophan) or high provitamin A content is part of the work we do with partners to help alleviate malnutrition. However, laboratory analyses are required to ensure that the grain used by consumers has increased nutritional quality.
Low laboratory staff turnover is crucial to consistently produce high quality results from routine analyses. Equally important is the need for specialized, dedicated, and highly trained and motivated staff.
Director General Martin Kropff
Since joining CIMMYT in June 2015, I’ve had the opportunity to learn first-hand the impact of its work around the world, and the appreciation for our work among our peers, partners, and friends.
For example, in China, three decades of partnership with CIMMYT have added US$ 3.4 billion to wheat output, and Australia, a donor country, has benefited to the tune of A$ 30 million per year on an in-vestment in CIMMYT of just A$ 1 million. A recent study found that around US$ 33 million invested in CGIAR wheat breeding yields US$ 2-5 billion worldwide. When the devastating maize lethal necrosis disease broke out in eastern Africa in 2011, CIMMYT led a response to get resistant varieties in farmers’ fields within just four years.
Even from such few examples, it is clear that wherever CIMMYT is involved, we have a valuable and unique contribution to make.
Based on information from the Sustainable Intensification Program Science Dissemination Team
“It is difficult to express in words how honored and deeply touched I am by this recognition,” said Sir Fazle Hasan Abed upon receiving the 2015 World Food Prize award on 16 October in Des Moines, Iowa. “The real heroes in our story are the poor themselves and, in particular, women struggling with poverty who overcome enormous challenges each day of their lives. Through our work across the world we have learnt that countries and cultures vary, but the realities, struggles, aspirations and dreams of poor and marginalized people are remarkably similar.”
Originally from Bangladesh, Abad is founder and chairperson of BRAC, and the prize was awarded to him because of his outstanding contributions to improving global food production and distribution for the benefit of the poorest of the poor.During the ceremony, which was held in the state capitol, Abad thanked everyone and expressed how honored he felt by the prize, but noted that he should not be recognized by the prize, but everyone who worked for the BRAC organization over the past 43 years, because it was through their efforts that new pathways were found for keeping millions of people in Bangladesh and other countries in Africa and Asia out of poverty.
Monsif-ur-Rehman, Imtiaz Muhammad, and Amina Nasim Khan
The Wheat Productivity Enhancement Program (WPEP), funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), held its annual wheat planning meeting organized by Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) and CIMMYT on 8-10 September 2015 in Islamabad.
WPEP aims to improve wheat productivity in Pakistan through rust surveillance, breeding, pre-breeding, seed multiplication, agronomy, and capacity building. The meeting highlighted the progress of research institutes across the country during 2014-15, the production challenges they face, and the way forward to improve wheat productivity.
Cosmos Magorokosho, Johnson Siamachira, Isaiah Nyagumbo, and Vongai Kandiwa
CIMMYT recently conducted an intensive three-week training course in Zambia for 38 young maize breeders–including 12 women–to provide them the knowledge and skills needed to apply modern maize breeding methods in their agricultural research and development programs. Participants from national programs and private seed companies from 12 African countries and Pakistan attended the course.
Moses Mwale of the Zambia Agricultural Research Institute (ZARI) officially opened the course, and said the training was critical as agriculture contributes over 40% of Zambia’s gross domestic product and provides 70% of all employment in Africa; up to 80% of the African population lives in rural areas and is heavily dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods.