Innovation Key to Wheat Yield Potential Advances, Says Incoming CIMMYT DG

Written by bpietrzykowski on . Posted in Uncategorized

Julie Mollins

Martin Kropff.

Photos: Alfredo Sáenz/CIMMYT

Martin Kropff, who will take the helm as director general of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in June, joined scientists, and other members of the global wheat community at the CIMMYT experimental research station near the town of Ciudad Obregon in Mexico’s northern state of Sonora for annual Visitors’ Week.

Following a tour of a wide range of research projects underway in the wheat fields of the Yaqui Valley made famous around the world by the work of the late Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug, who died in 2009 at age 95, Kropff shared his views.

Canadian Foodgrains Bank Highlights CIMMYT’s Christian Thierfelder’s Work in Conservation Agriculture

Written by bpietrzykowski on . Posted in Africa, Conservation Agriculture

Jennifer Johnson

Christian Thierfelder, CIMMYT senior agronomist stationed at Harare, Zimbabwe, was recently profiled by the Canadian Foodgrains Bank for his work promoting conservation agriculture techniques for smallholder farmers in Africa. Conservation agriculture systems are not only better for soils but help make agriculture more ‘climate-smart’, argues Thierfelder. “The conventional system can only make use of the water that is in the ridge and not further down in the soil,” he said. “In conservation agriculture systems, there is access to deeper layers and a lot of water has infiltrated. The maize can actually access the water much better because of an improved root system.”

Farmer in maize field.

Farmers admiring their maize-cowpea intercrop. Photo: Christian Thierfelder/CIMMYT

In addition, the techniques can provide far-reaching food security benefits to smallholder farmers. As conservation agriculture diminishes the risk of crop failure, it also allows farmers to reduce the land devoted to maize and to diversify the crops they produce. “Then there is room for new crops, cash crops, rotational crops, nutritional crops that help them to improve their diets and reduce malnutrition,” Thierfelder said. “That’s a very good way to overcome all of these problems at once.”

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Green Manures Help Zambian and Malawian Farmers Feed Crops and Livestock

Written by bpietrzykowski on . Posted in Africa

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has tasked CIMMYT with a new project to introduce green manure cover crops to smallholder farmers in eastern Zambia and central and southern Malawi.

Green manures can improve fertility, protect soils and provide fodder and grain for farm animals and humans. They also help substitute for mineral fertilizers, which are costly for landlocked African nations to produce or import. Most smallholder farmers cannot afford them and apply less than 10 kg per hectare of fertilizer to their crops, according to a 2013 study on profitable and sustainable nutrient management systems for eastern and southern African smallholder farming systems.

Mother-baby Trials Promote Conservation Agriculture in Mani-ca, Mozambique

Written by bpietrzykowski on . Posted in Africa, MAIZE CRP

Christian Thierfelder


A testament to increased climate variability and risk for farming systems already operating on the razor’s edge, the 2014-15 cropping season will be recognized as a sad write-off by most farmers in Central Mozambique. The rains started six weeks late and most of the rainfall fell in only two months (normally it’s distributed over four), followed by a long drought and some few showers at the end.

But with funds from the CGIAR Research Program on Maize, partners from the Instituto de Investigação Agrária de Moçambique (IIAM) and CIMMYT are working with farmers in Manica Province, Mozambique, to test and promote conservation agriculture practices that better capture and retain precious precipitation, among other advantages.

Water Fuels Maize and Wheat Production

Written by bpietrzykowski on . Posted in Africa

Industrial Water Run-Off Can Sustainably Boost Crop Production


Julie Mollins

This irrigation reservoir at the Kulumsa Agricultural Research Center in Ethiopia’s highlands captures water from a nearby beer distillery about 168 km (105 miles) southeast of the capital Addis Ababa. Before the irrigation project was constructed, the industrial runoff poured into the nearby river and affected the health of local residents. Now it nourishes crops growing in neighboring fields during the dry season or in periods of drought. It can store up to 38,195 m3 of water.

“The irrigation project has been a key investment – it’s very instrumental for accelerating seed multiplication of improved high-yielding rust resistant varieties for local wheat projects,” said Bekele Abeyo, a senior scientist and wheat breeder working for CIMMYT.

CIMMYT Joins Global Move to Adopt Climate-Smart Agriculture

Written by bpietrzykowski on . Posted in Uncategorized

Katelyn Roett


Climate-smart agriculture can be “an effective tool to address climate change and climate variability,” according to Kai Sonder, head of CIMMYT’s geographic information systems (GIS) unit, who was one of 754 participants from 75 countries, including 39 CIMMYT representatives, at the third annual Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture, held in Montpellier, France, during 16-18 March.

“Challenges are different for developing and developed countries, but climate change is affecting all of us,” said Sonder. Millions of smallholder farmers in developing countries have less than one hectare of land, earn less than USD $1 per day and are highly vulnerable to extreme climatic events. Many farmers in developed countries struggle to make a living, are dependent on subsidies and insurance payouts and are also highly vulnerable to extreme climatic events.

Seed Improvement to Prevent Rust Disease Key to Boosting Wheat Productivity

Written by bpietrzykowski on . Posted in Africa, Wheat

Bekele Abeyo


A new project in Ethiopia aims to improve the livelihoods of wheat farmers by encouraging the development and multiplication of high-yielding, rust-resistant bread and durum wheat varieties.

Meeting attendees listen to speaker.


High-quality seed is the key entry point for elevating farmer productivity in Ethiopia. As Norman Borlaug, the late Nobel Peace Prize laureate and wheat breeder who worked for many years with the International Center for Maize and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT) wrote: “Rust never sleeps.”

Promoting Conservation Agriculture in Golestan, Iran

Written by bpietrzykowski on . Posted in Uncategorized

Mohammad Esmaeil Asadi


Presentations and field demonstrations about the latest conservation agriculture practices landed on fruitful ground in Golestan Province, northern Iran, as part of a workshop involving 150 farmers, farm machinery manufacturers, agricultural extension officers, researchers and other experts during 10-11 December 2014.


Gaspardo planter adapted to local conditions.

Organized by the Golestan Jihad-Agricultural Organization and the Golestan Agricultural Research Center, the workshop was led by Ken Sayre, senior consultant for CIMMYT’s global conservation agriculture program, who worked through translators and responded to questions from highly-engaged farmers. The principles of conservation agriculture include reduced or zero tillage, retaining crop residues on the soil and targeted use of crop rotations.

Global Partnership Propels Wheat Productivity in China

Written by bpietrzykowski on . Posted in Asia, Wheat, WHEAT CRP

Mike Listman


Benefits of three decades of international collaboration in wheat research have added as much as 10.7 million tons of grain – worth US $3.4 billion – to China’s national wheat output, according to a study by the Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy (CCAP) of the Chinese Academy of Science.

Described in a report published on 30 March by the CGIAR Research Program on Wheat, the research examined China’s partnership with CIMMYT and the free use of CIMMYT improved wheat lines and other genetic resources during 1982-2011. The conclusions are based on a comprehensive dataset that included planted area, pedigree, and agronomic traits by variety for 17 major wheat-growing provinces in China.

Tribute to Dr. Norman E. Borlaug on his 101st Birth Anniversary

Written by bpietrzykowski on . Posted in BISA

Meenakshi Chandiramani


Borlaug Institute for South Asia (BISA) and CIMMYT India staff members gathered together at NASC Complex, New Delhi to pay tribute to the late Dr. Norman E. Borlaug on what would have been his 101st Birth Anniversary on 25 March. HS Gupta, director general, BISA, garlanded Borlaug’s statue, in front of the office block at NASC Complex. Staff members offered flowers in respect to the Nobel Laureate. Gupta apprised the staff members about Borlaug’s great contributions, including high-yielding wheat varieties which helped solve hunger around the world and particularly in South Asia. BISA and CIMMYT staff members resolved to work hard and follow Borlaug’s footsteps.

The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) edits and publishes an internet periodical in blog format entitled “CIMMYT.” The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center is domiciled at Km. 45 Carretera México-Veracruz, Col, el Batán, Texcoco, Estado de México, México, C.P. 56237; phone + 52 (55) 5804-2004; Responsible Editor: Genevieve Renard. Reserved Right for Exclusive Use granted by the Mexican Copyright Office (valid in Mexico) no. 04-2013-091212312700-203. Responsible for updating this blog: Carissa Wodehouse, communications officer, Km. 45 Carretera México -Veracruz, El Batán, Texcoco, Estado de México. C. P. 56150, México. Weekly update. © CIMMYT 2014.

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