CIMMYT Observes the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

Written by cwodehouse on . Posted in Uncategorized

Jennifer Johnson

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.

Celebrate World Food Day with CIMMYT on 16 October

Written by cwodehouse on . Posted in Events

Join CIMMYT in celebrating World Food Day on 16 October!

World Food Day logo

Since 1979, World Food Day has served as a call for people around the world to come together to reduce hunger. This year the theme for World Food Day is “Family Farming: Feeding the world, caring for the earth,” as FAO celebrates 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF). Family farmers play a significant role in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources and achieving sustainable development especially in rural areas.

World Food Day is especially important to CIMMYT’s mission to “sustainably increase the productivity of maize and wheat systems to ensure global food security and reduce poverty.”

According to the CIMMYT 2013 annual report, maize and wheat account for about 40 percent of the world’s food and 25 percent of the calories consumed in developing countries. Billions of people in developing countries receive more than half of their daily calories from maize- and wheat-based foods. These countries need about 700 million tons of maize and wheat to meet their food needs. Because of population increases by 2020, these countries will need an additional 368 million tons of maize and wheat to sustain their communities. By improving varieties of maize and wheat and supplying these varieties to the world, CIMMYT is fighting for and working toward the World Food Day mission daily through various programs and projects.

As one example, innovative wheat varieties from CIMMYT and its research partners have helped Ethiopia more than double its wheat production in a decade, increasing from 1.60 million tons to more than 3.92 million tons from 2003/04 to 2013/14. A 2014 nationwide study published in Food Policy involving more than 2,000 farm households in Ethiopia’s major wheat-producing areas revealed that those who adopt improved wheat varieties are able to spend more on food, are more likely to be food secure and are less likely to suffer chronic or transitory food shortages.

In addition, CIMMYT’s Hill Maize Research Project (HMRP) has been working with national research and extension partners, non-governmental organizations, private seed companies and farmers to develop, test and disseminate high-yielding maize varieties, support seed production and marketing, and test and promote resource-conserving farming practices in the mid-hills of Nepal. Maize is a vital crop in this region especially for poorer families and accounts for nearly 20 percent of all caloric intake. In Nepal, maize is typically grown on family farms; harsh climates, poor infrastructure and market access and worsening shortages of labor are just some of the challenges these families face. The HMRP is helping to address these constraints for a positive impact on farm productivity. Join CIMMYT and FAO on World Food Day by generating awareness of the 805 million people who are suffering from chronic hunger worldwide. How? Follow the conversation online on Facebook and Twitter, by using the hashtag #WFD2014, or visit the World Food Day website to discover how to take action by virtually “toasting” a farmer or even joining/hosting an event in your community.

For more information on World Food Day visit

CIMMYT Recognizes the International Day of Rural Women

Written by cwodehouse on . Posted in Gender

Jennifer Johnson

A woman pounding food.

A rural woman in Bangladesh cuts up feed for her family’s livestock.
Photo: S. Mojumder/Drik/CIMMYT.

15 October 2014 will mark the sixth celebration of the International Day of Rural Women, a United Nations (UN) day dedicated to recognizing “the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.” The International Day of Rural Women was first celebrated on 15 October 2008, and was established by the UN General Assembly on 18 December 2007. CIMMYT acknowledges the importance of understanding and recognizing the important role of women in agriculture, and is committed to the inclusion and participation of women – especially rural women – in its research and programs.

“Rural women produce much of the world’s food, care for the environment and help reduce the risk of disaster in their communities. Yet they continue to face disadvantages and discrimination that prevent them from realizing their potential,” stated UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in his 2013 International Day of Rural Women message. “For too many rural women, their daily reality is one in which they do not own the land they farm, are denied the financial services that could lift them out of poverty, and live without the guarantee of basic nutrition, health services and amenities such as clean water and sanitation. Empowering rural women is crucial for ending hunger and poverty.”

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, women comprise about 43 percent of the agricultural labor force globally and in developing countries, but have limited access to productive resources and employment opportunities. This constrains their capacity to improve their lives and to better contribute to the economic growth, food security and sustainable development of their communities and countries. Research shows that if women in agriculture were afforded the same rights and opportunities as men, they could increase their farm yields by an estimated 20 to 30 percent and feed up to 150 million more people worldwide. Lack of access to important yield-increasing inputs such as improved seed, fertilizers and equipment frequently limits the agricultural yields rural women are able to produce. “Women are a key part of the mainstream in agriculture, yet they face formidable obstacles,” said CIMMYT gender and development specialist Vongai Kandiwa during a seminar in Nairobi, Kenya. “By closing the gap in access to technology between men and women, we could increase productivity by 30 percent.” This advance would help to improve child survival and nutrition, as “women are the key to household food security.”

“CIMMYT is working hard to close this gender gap and generate gains in agricultural output, food security, economic growth and social welfare,” reported CIMMYT’s Director General Thomas Lumpkin in his 2014 message for International Women’s Day. “Across our projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America, CIMMYT actively seeks women’s participation in breeding and seed sector development, the value chain and agricultural mechanization, and is working to integrate gender into the project design cycle and into project implementation. The CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) on MAIZE and WHEAT (both led by CIMMYT) have an approved gender integration strategy and in 2014 and 2015 all CRPs will jointly conduct a cross-gender study.”

In addition, CIMMYT also works to improve rural women’s access to the inputs and tools they need to increase productivity, achieve higher yields and improve the economic well-being of their families. Projects implemented by CIMMYT across the developing world actively promote women’s participation and equality, such as the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA), which has hired women staff members specifically to reach more women farmers and works to provide rural women with gender-responsive labor-saving technologies such as smaller hand seeders and power tillers. The Maize-Legume Systems for the Eastern Province of Zambia (SIMLEZA) and Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa (DTMA) projects in Africa have proactively sought to ensure women’s participation in decision-making by giving women the opportunity to present their ideas in women-only groups (which allow them more freedom and flexibility than mixed groups). The Take it to the Farmer (TTF) component of the Sustainable Modernization of Traditional Agriculture (MasAgro) program in Mexico has been using female field researchers and extension workers in order to be more inclusive of rural women in its projects. Ensuring the inclusion and participation of rural women in agricultural research and programs is crucial in the battle to improve their food security and livelihoods.

Recent Publications by CIMMYT Staff

Written by cwodehouse on . Posted in Publication

Assessment of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris l.) Seed quality produced under different cropping systems by smallholder farmers in eastern Ethiopia. 2014. Oshone, K.; Gebeyehu, S.; Kindie Tesfaye Fantaye. African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development 14 (1) : 8566-8584.

Biological and chemical dependent systemic resistance and their significance for the control of root-knot nematodes. 2014. Dababat, A.A. Nematology. Online First.

Dayaniklilik Geni Cre1’ in Akdeniz Tahil Kist Nematodu, Heterodea latipons Franklin (Tylenchida: Heteroderidae)’e Karsi Etkinliginin Arastirilmasi. Investigation the Efficiency of Resistance Gene, Cre1, Against; Mediterranean Cereal Cyst Nematode: Heterodera latipons Franklin (Tylenchida: Heteroderidae) 2014. Imren, M.; Kasapoglu, E.B.; Dababat, A.A.; Toktay, H.; Elekcioglu, I.H. Journal of Agricultural Science 20 : 261-268.

Early vertical distribution of roots and its association with drought tolerance in tropical maize. 2014. Grieder, C.; Trachsel, S.; Hund, A. Plant and Soil 377 (1-2) : 295-308.

Investigating water transport through the xylem network in vascular plants. 2014. Have Koo Kim; Park, J.; Hwang, I. Journal of Experimental Botany 65 (7) : 1895-1904.

Multi-scale trade-off analysis of cereal residue use for livestock feeding vs. soil mulching in the Mid-Zambezi Valley, Zimbabwe. 2014. Baudron, F.; Delmotte, S.; Corbeels, M.; Herrera, J.M.; Tittonell, P. Agricultural Systems. Online First.

On the relationship between C and N fixation and amino acid synthesis in nodulated alfalfa (Medicago sativa). 2014. Molero, G.; Tcherkez, G.; Araus, J.L.; Nogues, S. Functional Plant Biology 41 (4) : 331-341.

Overview and Application of QTL for Adult Plant Resistance to Leaf Rust and Powdery Mildew in Wheat. 2014. Zaifeng Li; Caixia Lan; He Zhonghu; Singh, R.P.; Rosewarne, G.M.; Xinmin Chen; Xianchun Xia. Crop Science 54 (5) : 1907-1925.

Temperature adaptation in Australasian populations of Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici. 2014. Loladze, A.; Druml, T.; Wellings, C.R. Plant Pathology 63 (3) : 572-580.

Zero-tolerance for genetic pollution: Rice farming, pharm rice, and the risks of coexistence in California. 2014. Mulvaney, D.; Krupnik, T.J. Food Policy 45 : 125-131.

Mexican University Students Attend Eighth Annual CIMMYT Open House

Written by cwodehouse on . Posted in México

Students gather in front of CIMMYT headquarters

On 19 September CIMMYT-El Batán held the eighth annual Open House for 300 Mexican students from the states of Puebla, Querétaro, Michoacán, Guadalajara, Guanajuato, State of Mexico and Distrito Federal. Students visited CIMMYT field demonstration plots of Maize, Wheat and Conservation Agriculture, and visited the Wellhausen-Anderson Plant Genetic Resources Center and the biosciences complex (biotechnology, maize and wheat nutrition and quality labs).

Participating universities include:

  • Universidad de Guadalajara
  • Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México
  • Universidad de Querétaro
  • Universidad Autónoma de Chapingo
  • Universidad Tecnológica de San Miguel de Allende
  • Centro de Bachillerato Tecnológico (CBT)
  • Universidad Nacional Autónoma
  • Colegio de Postgraduados
  • Universidad Tecnológica de Tehuacán
  • Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores Monterrey, Campus Morelia

NuME Organizes Financial Management Workshop for Partners

Written by cwodehouse on . Posted in Africa, Maize

Seifu Mahifere

CIMMYT’s Nutritious Maize for Ethiopia (NuME) project recently organized a half-day workshop to refresh the knowledge of financial officers from partner institutions on various accounting and reporting procedures, with specific reference to financial procedures that apply to projects funded by the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD). Dr. Adefris Teklewold, NuME project leader, provided a detailed explanation of NuME objectives and its implementation to date.

Participants in a classroom.

Participants listen attentively during a session of the financial management workshop.

The workshop was facilitated by Ato Antenane Abeiy, NuME project manager, and hosted some 20 finance and accounting professionals drawn from both governmental and non-governmental organizations directly involved in the implementation of the project. Participants included representatives of the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture, Sasakawa Global 2000 and Farm Radio International.

Abeiy said that the workshop was organized to familiarize the participants with overall project financial management processes, as well as the requirements and procedures that apply both to CIMMYT and DFATD. The workshop clearly identified the challenges observed to date in NuME project fund administration processes and discussed possible solutions that will ease and speed up financial operations and systems for the remainder of the project.

Accordingly, discussions were held on topics including CIMMYT and donor requirements, NuME budget categories and budget lines, NuME cash transfer modalities, fund request and release procedures, implementation start-up, financial management and documentation, financial accountability, auditing and quality assurance and a summary checklist of required information and flow of activities developed to receive, disburse and report project-related funds.

Challenges and ‘common mistakes’ in financial management and reporting observed to date were discussed. These include: delays in signing sub-grant agreements; delays in fund release; underutilization of funds; under-reporting of expenditures; delays in reporting and reporting without following formal channels; filing reports without official approval; and reporting in lump sums with no detailed expenditure and description of expenditures attached.

Participants noted during the discussions that they will use the skills gained from the workshop to properly expedite and administer project funds and ease matters for their institutions and staff to properly implement the various activities planned for the effective implementation of the NuME project.

NuME is implemented by CIMMYT in Ethiopia and funded by DFATD. It is designed to help improve the food and nutritional security of Ethiopia’s rural population – especially women and children – through the adoption of quality protein maize varieties and crop management practices that increase farm productivity.

Partnering with Seed Companies to Disseminate Fertilizer-Friendly Maize Seed in East Africa

Written by cwodehouse on . Posted in Africa, Maize

Florence Sipalla

A group of farmers gathers in a field.

James Gethi, CIMMYT seed systems specialist (left) and Watanga Chacha, CEO of Meru Agro (third from left) pose with staff from the military school in Mbeya, Tanzania, where the company is producing HB513 seed. Photo: Mosisa Worku/CIMMYT

Seed companies are key partners in delivering improved seed to smallholder farmers in Africa, the key beneficiaries of agricultural research. Meru Agro in Tanzania is one such partner, producing ‘fertilizer- friendly’ maize varieties with support from the Improved Maize for African Soils (IMAS) project.“We call the varieties fertilizer-friendly because they use the small amounts of fertilizer that smallholder farmers in Africa tend to apply most often,” said Dr. Biswanath Das, CIMMYT maize breeder. Since 2013, Meru Agro has been multiplying HB513, a fertilizer-friendly and drought-tolerant hybrid.The company has produced over 1,200 metric tons of HB513 seed, which can potentially reach 50,000 smallholder farmers in the mid-elevation regions of Tanzania in the next cropping season.


The CEO of a seed company stands with his products.

Watanga Chacha, CEO of Meru Agro displays a bag of HB513. Photo: Biswanath Das/CIMMYT.

As a small-to-medium enterprise, Meru Agro uses innovative methods to promote its maize varieties. The company runs extensive demonstration plots at key locations and gives away ‘promo packs’ to farmers during field days. “These are 100 gram packs that we give away through the afro-dealers. The packs allow farmers to test the varieties for themselves and compare them with what they are growing,” said Watanga Chacha, the company’s chief executive officer. Meru Agro also participates in the annual NaneNane agricultural shows held in Arusha, Mbeya and Mwanza, Tanzania, in August, where they showcase their varieties. “When they plant for NaneNane, they do it at intervals to ensure that farmers can see how the hybrid performs at different growth stages,” said Dr. Mosisa Worku Regasa, CIMMYT seed systems specialist.

Meru Agro has also embraced radio as a marketing tool. “We use radio advertisements to reach farmers in our target areas,” said Chacha. “We have the advertisements recorded in the local accents, which helps the audience identify with them.” The company also invests in extension, training farmers in modern agricultural practices, augmented with training for agro-dealers. “This has contributed to the expansion of our distribution network as farmers get to know the merits of the maize  varieties we are selling,” adds Chacha. “The training gives farmers confidence that they are buying a good variety by knowing the merits of the varieties in advance.”

Rapid Growth

Meru Agro began operations in October 2006 as an agro-dealer and grew rapidly. By 2009, the company had evolved into a seed and farm input supplier. “We started with three employees, we now have 34 workers, eight graduates, five diploma holders and one master’s degree holder,” says the entrepreneur. “A good strategy does not automatically translate to good performance. The team you have makes the difference – their technical skills and capacity to execute the strategy makes the difference,” said Chacha, crediting his staff for contributing to the company’s success.

Seed production and breeding research done by organizations such as CIMMYT and the national agriculture institutes benefit small seed companies like Meru Agro.

“We have released four maize hybrid varieties in collaboration with CIMMYT and we are producing some open-pollinated varieties
(OPVs) that have been released by the national program in Tanzania,” said Chacha. The company’s product portfolio leans towards hybrid seeds; this selection is determined by the market response. “Most farmers in Tanzania are now shifting from OPVs to hybrids.” The company is planning to establish a breeding unit in the near future. In the meantime, it relies on public goods derived from breeding research produced by CIMMYT and the national agriculture institute.

The company is partnering with other agencies involved in seed distribution in Tanzania including the Tanzania Agricultural Partnerships (TAP), Farm Input Promotional Services (FIPS) and the Government Farm Input Subsidy Program to distribute 400,000 2-kilogram packs of maize seed to smallholder farmers. “We are targeting smallholder farmers, some of whom have very little land, between one-quarter of an acre to three acres,” said Chacha. “In Tanzania, farmers prefer small packs of certified seed. There is a huge untapped market in Tanzania as maize is the staple crop,” said Chacha, explaining the rationale behind their expansion plans. “The IMAS program provided technical backstopping and financial support to Meru Agro for seed production of MERU HB513, which is drought tolerant, in addition to being efficient in its use of nitrogen,” said Das. Meru Agro staff have participated in seed business management courses facilitated by CIMMYT, contributing to capacity building within the company. “The company has produced large volumes of certified seed,” said Regasa.


“The seed business is challenging,” said Chacha. The CEO cites the high investment costs in machinery for seed cleaning, grading and packaging. Chacha says drought is one of the challenges that hamper their seed production, as not all of it is cropped under irrigation. “It takes time to convince farmers,” added Chacha, citing promotion as another challenge.

CCAFS Climate Smart Village Program Progress Makes News in India

Written by cwodehouse on . Posted in Asia

Jennifer Johnson

The CCAFS Climate Smart Village (CSV) program recently earned significant media attention for its successes in the Indian states of Bihar, Haryana and Punjab where the program is being implemented. The CSVs were featured in BBC News as well as several newspapers in the region. The CSV program is helping farmers in developing countries adapt their agricultural practices to secure dependable food supplies and livelihoods, while also decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing carbon sequestration, thereby decreasing future climate change. The project began in 2011 and works with villages in East and West Africa and South Asia. “The Climate Smart Villages program is a community-based approach to sustainable agricultural development,” said M.L. Jat, CIMMYT senior cropping system agronomist and South Asia coordinator of the CCAFS- CIMMYT project.

Australian Wheat Breeders’ Relationship with Mexico Spans More Than 40 Years

Written by cwodehouse on . Posted in Wheat

Katie Lutz

In Australia, over 90 percent of local wheat varieties can be traced back to CIMMYT varieties, reports Kim Honan in a 17 September article on ABC’s Rural website.

For 40 years, Australian wheat breeders, as a part of the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC)-funded CIMMYT/Australia/ICARDA Germplasm Evaluation (CAIGE) project, have traveled to Mexico annually to visit CIMMYT wheat fields.

“CIMMYT is a global program, it’s breeding for the world, so the nurseries they put together to distribute globally don’t necessarily have the traits that we’re looking for in Australia,” said Richard Trethowan, professor of Plant Breeding at the University of Sydney and former CIMMYT wheat breeder.

The trip allows the team to review materials and hand-select breeds with traits that might not have otherwise been available to Australian breeders. Each year, the scientists look for traits that show signs of potential yield increases, drought tolerance and heat tolerance. In particular, the breeders look for more diversity in each of those characteristics. During this trip, the team chose a set of about 350 varieties.

“This is a smorgasbord of diversity and here we can find that new resistance and bring that back to

Australia,” said Trethowan. “The breeder needs to take all this diversity for yield, resistance and adaptation to drought and heat, and improve that for grain quality to meet the Australian markets.”

Read Honan’s full report detailing the breeders’ trip to Mexico here.

Annual Planning Meeting for Wheat Productivity Enhancement Program Supported by USDA

Written by cwodehouse on . Posted in Asia, Wheat

Yahya Rauf and Imtiaz Muhammad

The Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) and CIMMYT organized a two-day annual wheat planning meeting at the National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC) in Islamabad. The meeting was in support of the Wheat Productivity Enhancement Program (WPEP), which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The objectives of WPEP are to improve wheat though rust surveillance, breeding, pre-breeding, seed production, agronomy and coordination and capacity building. Meeting participants focused on a review of the progress made in 2013-14, identifying emerging opportunities and developing work plans for the coming year.

ahid Masood, PARC chief science officer and senior director; Dr. Iftikhar Ahmed, PARC chairman; David Williams, agricultural counselor for the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan; Dr. Imtiaz Muhammad, country representative for CIMMYT in Pakistan.

Dr. Shahid Masood, PARC chief science officer and senior director; Dr. Iftikhar Ahmed, PARC chairman; David Williams, agricultural counselor for the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan; Dr. Imtiaz Muhammad, country representative for CIMMYT in Pakistan.

“The United States has a long history of collaboration with Pakistan in the agriculture sector; WPEP has made exceptional progress in the country to develop Ug99-resistant wheat varieties which will ensure food security,” said David Williams, agricultural counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad. He also commended the integrated research efforts of national and international partners for the enhancement of the nation’s wheat yields.

Williams addresses the audience

David Williams, agricultural counselor for the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan, addresses the audience.

Imtiaz Muhammad, CIMMYT’s country representative in Pakistan, shared the impacts of WPEP on national and international wheat research systems. He added that CIMMYT’s efforts in the seed component of WPEP are substantial. WPEP has made significant progress; the release of Ug99-resistant wheat varieties (such as NARC-2011, PAK-13 and the upcoming Borlaug-14) will improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Pakistan.

WPEP has played a vital role in developing a wheat rust surveillance system, upgrading infrastructure and improving the research capacity in Pakistan. Collaborative and coordinated efforts through PARC and CIMMYT have enabled the country to develop a rust culture bank. It has built the capacity of provincial wheat breeding programs to secure wheat production against the potential threat of Ug99 races.

During the technical session, partners from across Pakistan agreed that developing Ug99-resistant wheat varieties to replace traditional varieties and making them available to farmers is a critical step in maintaining high yields in Pakistan. Participants acknowledged the support of the USDA, CIMMYT and PARC in wheat research.

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: Scott Mall. 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.

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) Copyright © 2014