The Nutritious Maize for Ethiopia (NuME) aims to develop and promote quality protein maize (QPM) in the major maize growing areas of Ethiopia, including the highlands and the dry lands, to improve nutritional status of children. The project has a strong gender component, ensuring women’s full participation in all activities and equal share of benefits, which was discussed during a Gender Analysis and Strategy workshop at the ILRI campus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 16 April 2013. The purpose of the event was to present gender analysis and gender strategy developed by Kidist Gebreselasie, NuME gender consultant, to implementation partners, receive partners’ input, agree on strategy, and discuss future developments. The workshop was attended by representatives from the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), ministries of health and agriculture, the Ethiopian Health and Nutrition Research Institute (EHNRI), SG2000, FRI, the Ethiopian Seed Enterprise, other seed companies, Hawassa University, Harvard Institute of Public Health, and CIDA (the project’s funder). CIMMYT was represented by Dagne Wegary (interim project coordinator), Dennis Friesen (project advisor/consultant), Vongai Khalumba (gender specialist), and Hugo De Groote (agricultural economist).
On 26-27 April 2013, the FONTAGRO “Generation and validation of drought tolerant maize varieties to stabilize and reduce mycotoxin damage resulting from climate change” project held its end-of-project meeting in La Ceiba, Honduras, along with the Central American Cooperative Program for the Improvement of Crops and Animals (PCCMCA) meeting (21-26 April). The event highlighted the advances to date, the project’s products, and recommendations for follow-up to ensure that the products reach farmers.
“I am so excited to be here,” said Dr. Evangelina Villegas as she received her Outstanding Alumni Award from the Department of Grain Science and Industry at the Kansas State University (KSU) at CIMMYT-El Batán on 07 May 2013. “This award is not just for me,” she added, “it is for everyone who worked with me, and everyone I worked with. I have such fond memories of my time both at CIMMYT and Kansas State, and I am very appreciative of the awards I am receiving today.” Awards? Yes, besides the KSU Award honoring Dr. Villegas and her achievements in helping to alleviate hunger and malnutrition, she also received the CIMMYT-Borlaug Award for her contributions to the Green Revolution. “Eva is an incredible woman who helped to achieve incredible progress in the improvement of maize and wheat,” said Thomas Lumpkin, CIMMYT director general, during the ceremony.
The Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) and Murdoch University, Australia, with financial support from the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology and the Australian government, officially opened the Australia-China Joint Center for Wheat Improvement in Beijing, China, on 9 April 2013. The center is one of six approved jointly by the two governments. It was opened in the presence of the Prime Minister of Australia Honorable Julia Gillard, CAAS President Jiayang Li, CIMMYT distinguished scientist and liaison officer for China Zhonghu He, and Rudi Appels from Murdoch University. The establishment of the center builds upon more than 10 years of successful wheat quality improvement collaboration between the CAAS-CIMMYT wheat program and Murdoch University.
During 15-17 April, over 50 participants from Murdoch and 8 Chinese institutes attended a workshop for the Australia-China Joint Center for Wheat Improvement held in Beijing. They focused on discovery of new genes, development of elite germplasm, and development of gene specific markers by genomic approach for important traits such as yield, drought resistance, and quality. Ten scholarships, each for 12 months, are available for Chinese postgraduate students to work on thesis research at Murdoch University.
Conservation agriculture methods enable producers to sustainably intensify production, improve soil health, and minimize or avoid negative externalities. However, these practices have not yet taken off in most Central Asian countries. The FAO Sub-Regional Office for Central Asia, in cooperation with CIMMYT, ICARDA, and the national counterparts, conducted a study on the status of conservation agriculture in Central Asia to develop policy recommendations for its promotion. The document titled “Conservation Agriculture in Central Asia: Status, Policy, Institutional Support, and Strategic Framework for its Promotion” presents the existing opportunities for adoption and uptake of conservation agriculture techniques, as well as the conditions that need to be taken into account in designing and promoting policy and institutional support strategies for its up-scaling.
The value of CIMMYT’s research work is enhanced through partnerships supporting the development and dissemination of new maize production technologies. To encourage this collaboration, the CIMMYT Southern Africa regional office in Harare, Zimbabwe, holds an annual event during which stakeholders from the ministries of agriculture, academic institutions, seed companies, and donor representatives tour field trials and get acquainted with the station’s research outputs.
As traditional storage methods are proving less efficient, especially when faced with pests, a team of scientists from CIMMYT and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute researched the effectiveness of hermetic systems in controlling maize storage pests in Kenya. To identify the most effective system, CIMMYT’s Hugo De Groote, Simon C. Kimenju, Fred Kanampiu, Tadele Tefera, and Jon Hellin, and KARI’s Paddy Likhayo, tested metal silos and super grain bags at three sites in Kenya and concluded that it is technically feasible to control storage insects without insecticides in Africa by using hermetic storage. However, several unanswered questions remain:
Nearly 140 members of the CIMMYT community and valued Mexican partners gathered on 16 April 2013 with the family of Gregorio “Goyo” Martínez Valdés, retired CIMMYT institutional relations officer who succumbed to cancer at 77 on 07 April, in a solemn ceremony in the pine grove at El Batán to commemorate his life and work.
An extension communications specialist by training, Martínez first studied at the Antonio Narro Agrarian Autonomous University in Mexico (UAAAN) and went on to complete MSc (1962) and PhD (1966) degrees at the University of Wisconsin, USA. His education and early employment coincided and brought him in close contact with the emergence of modern agricultural research in Mexico, the joint Rockefeller Foundation-Mexico Office of Special Studies (OSS) that was the cradle of the Green Revolution, and leading national and international figures of that historic time, including Norman E. Borlaug and Edwin Wellhausen.
On daily basis, we interact with farmers, extension workers, researchers, seed companies, government officials, and many others. Our work would not be possible without these actors, many of whom focus on bringing new products, new processes, new policies, and new forms of organization into economic use. In their attempts to bring about change in agriculture, these multiple stakeholders are all part of what may be seen as agricultural innovation systems (AIS). However, CIMMYT’s engagement with AIS and its role within innovation platforms was not discussed more closely until recently. To review CIMMYT’s role and current approach to the AIS framework, summarize what has been done, and touch upon future plans, CRP MAIZE, the Global Conservation Agriculture Program (GCAP), and the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) organized a workshop on “Agricultural Innovation Systems: what does it mean to the work we do?” The day-long event took place at CIMMYT-El Batán on 11 April 2013; it was attended by over 30 participants from several CIMMYT departments, programs, and regional offices, and facilitated by Remco Mur and Mariana Wongtschowski from KIT.
Increasing maize production in Afghanistan and defining research imperatives to address its major constraints were the topic of the 2nd Agricultural Research Institute of Afghanistan (ARIA)-CIMMYT maize workshop during 09- 10 April 2013 at the Plant Protection and Quarantine Department (PPQD), Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) in Kabul. About 40 participants from ARIA, FAO, CIMMYT, ICARDA, MAIL, Japan International Cooperation Agency, and Private Seed Enterprises (PSE) gathered to discuss several challenging issues. Although maize ranks third among the Afghan government’s priorities after wheat and rice, its 2011 production was only about 1.64 tons per hectare which is about 32-33% of both Asian and the world average. Official import figures are not available, but it is assumed that Afghanistan imports large quantities of maize from neighboring countries, as the harvest of 300,000 tons cannot be sufficient for the population of 30 million, especially since Afghanistan harvested between 650,000- 750,000 tons in the 1960s and 1970s when its population was only about 11-13 millions.