Husband-and-wife duo Oscar Hernández Mendoza and Rosa Elena Montiel Díaz said their work with MasAgro helps them improve the lives of farmers in their town. The two made a presentation about their efforts in Úrsulo Galván, Veracruz, on 29 August during CIMMYT’s first symposium for MasAgro experimental platforms. MasAgro, or the Sustainable Modernization of Traditional Agriculture, is a CIMMYT program coordinated with Mexico’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries, and Food (SAGARPA).
Posts Tagged ‘SAGARPA’
CIMMYT and leading agribusiness Syngenta México signed an agreement this month to work together in efforts aimed at sustainably increasing crop production in Mexico while protecting the environment and contributing to food security.
Syngenta will collaborate with CIMMYT to do research on conservation agriculture in four experimental platforms. The new project follows the same logic and goals of MasAgro, the Sustainable Modernization of Traditional Agriculture, which CIMMYT implements in coordination with Mexico’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries, and Food (SAGARPA). MasAgro aims to build the capacities of small-scale farmers to encourage the adoption of sustainable farming practices and technologies that may help increase maize and wheat output, in line with Mexico’s recently announced “Crusade Against Hunger.”
Over 100 stakeholders, scientists, and students from 28 countries were welcomed in Obregon, Mexico, by John Snape, CIMMYT Board of Trustees member, as he opened the 3rd International Workshop of the Wheat Yield Consortium (WYC). The meeting sponsored by SAGARPA (through MasAgro) was held at the Campo Experimental Norman E. Borlaug (CENEB) near Ciudad Obregon, Sonora, Mexico, during 5-7 March 2013.
On 13 February 2013, CIMMYT inaugurated a new US$ 25 million research complex at its headquarters in El Batán. The new advanced bioscience research facilities, 45 kilometers (20 miles) from Mexico City, marked its grand opening to a crowd of more than 100 invited guests.
The event was attended by Bill Gates, Carlos Slim, Lic. Enrique Martínez y Martínez, Mexican Secretary of Agriculture and leader of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA), and Dr. Eruviel Ávila Villegas, Governor of the State of Mexico.
To meet the global demand for wheat, wheat yield needs to be increased by 60% by 2050 or 1.6% per year. While scientific evidence suggests that the yield potential could be increased by 50% or more, the research needed is beyond the current capacity of individual institutions or national research programs. Therefore, the establishment of an international Wheat Yield Network (WYN) was proposed on 13 November 2012 during the Wheat Yield Funders’ Conference in Mexico City. The WYN follows on from a major three year effort by the Global Wheat Program and many international partners (who worked together as the Wheat Yield Consortium) with strong support from the Mexican Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA) through the MasAgro initiative.
On Monday 12 November CIMMYT and SAGARPA presented the first MasAgro Activities Report 2011-2012 at CIMMYT headquarters in Texcoco, State of Mexico.
In his welcome speech, Thomas Lumpkin stated that he is proud to collaborate with a country that has such a profound vision and a solid commitment to its people and to humanity. He added that he expects that other governments and foundations will follow Mexico’s example and pointed out that India, Nigeria, and Ethiopia have already taken their first steps in that direction.
A collaboration between 31 partner organizations, with 83 expert scientists, the Wheat Yield Consortium (WYC) aims to increase wheat yield potential 50% by 2030. This unprecedented project was established by CIMMYT in 2009, and during 13-15 March 2012, 69 stakeholders from 11 countries met at the Campo Experimental Norman E. Borlaug (CENEB) near Ciudad Obregon, Sonora, Mexico, for the 2nd International Workshop of the WYC. The aim of the meeting was to present the progress made so far and how to raise the funding required to reach the target.
In order to speed the delivery of new wheat genotypes to farmers, the WYC strategically integrates three scientific themes into a synergistic approach for increasing wheat yields: Theme 1 looks to increase total plant biomass by improving photosynthetic capacity whilst the research in Theme 2 simultaneously optimizes partitioning of assimilates to yield in diverse environments whilst increasing the strength of the plant to avoid the risk of lodging. These themes feed into Theme 3, which is focused on incorporating improved yield potential traits into elite breeding lines adapted to wheat agro-ecosystems worldwide.
On the first day, CIMMYT Wheat Physiologist Matthew Reynolds presented an overview of the science and Steve Visscher from the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC) addressed the criteria by which such an ambitious project will be reviewed by the science and development assistance community. Director of CIMMYT’s Global Wheat Program, Hans Braun, then addressed scenarios by which the WYC might become fully funded. The WYC currently operates mainly with Mexican Government funds (through the MasAgro initiative), while the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) and other WYC affiliated organizations, including CIMMYT, make substantial in-kind contributions. One of the main focuses of the workshop was to finalize the WYC Business Plan, which will shortly be submitted for peer review, before being presented to potential donors in order to attract the first installment of funding in what is expected to be a 20 year endeavor. “The meeting was a lot of hard work for everybody but team spirit was excellent and we are all optimistic about the WYC,” said Reynolds.
Participants also had the opportunity to visit the Mexican Phenotyping Platform (MEXPLAT), which is playing a vital role in many of the sub-projects. Whilst there, they had the opportunity to witness the launch of CIMMYT’s new blimp. MEXPLAT is based at CENEB and provides laboratory and experimental field facilities, as well as the provision and/or distribution of shared germplasm panels (including the CIMCOG set, which has been used in much of the WYC research conducted so far and is currently being grown at 20 sites worldwide).
On the final day, Undersecretary of the Mexican Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA), Mariano Ruiz-Funes, took time to visit the workshop and reiterate the support of the Mexican Government. “Mexico is fully committed with this project,” he said, before expressing how the Mexican Government plans to use their presidency of the G20 this year to promote agricultural research.
Mexico has a network of state and private laboratories with authorization from the Mexican Plant Health Authority (DGSC), an office of the National Service of Agri-Food Health, Safety, and Quality (SENASICA), to examine and identify plant diseases, in order to protect crops in Mexico. It is vital that the technicians at these facilities continue to receive and update their training, in order to ensure the highest levels of competence, and to help deliver the projects of MasAgro.
As part of its component to develop genetic resources and seed multiplication, deliver new technologies, and build capacity, MasAgro funded the second theoretical-practical course on detecting plant pathogens using PCR in real time, during 24-26 January 2012, at El Batán. The course was organized by Mónica Mezzalama, Head of CIMMYT’s Seed Health Laboratory, and lead by Paul Vincelli, Professor at Kentucky State University, USA. The 16 participants came from SENASICA-SAGARPA, Plant Health State Committees, universities, the private sector, and CIMMYT.
“The course was excellent and reached the objectives set,” said Kenia Rodriguez, Technician at the Molecular Biology Laboratory, Morelia. “I learnt a lot about things I do at the National Center of Phytosanitary Reference, particularly on techniques I didn’t know about.” Daisy Fuentes, Head of GeMBio, Science Research Center, Yucatán AC, said that the course will be helpful for her daily activities after being exposed to the PCR techniques in much greater detail.
The certification ceremony was presided over by Marco Antonio Caballero García, Director of Production Inputs, SAGARPA, with Kevin Pixley, Director of CIMMYT Genetic Resources, and Mezzalama. Congratulations to all the graduates!
At the launch of the MAIZE and WHEAT CRPs, Undersecretary Mariano Ruiz-Funes Macedo of the Mexican Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA) spoke of the challenges being faced by agriculture worldwide. Before the international audience, he highlighted MasAgro as Mexico’s strategy to strengthen food security, combat negative effects of climate change, and promote agricultural in a sustainable and productive way. SAGARPA and CIMMYT are key partners of the MasAgro initiative, which “is a project of Mexico, to the world,” said Karen García, MasAgro’s Executive Director.
“MasAgro is working to increase maize and wheat production and yields in rainfed zones, to benefit small-scale farmers,” said Ruiz-Funes, emphasizing that so far, 21 experimental platforms have been established, with 132 demonstration modules, and 20,790 hectares or extension areas with sustainable technology in the Mexican Highlands, Bajío, Lowland Tropics, and North Pacific regions. CIMMYT’s certified conservation agriculture technician course now has 28 graduates, with a further 180 people registered for future courses, and a collaborative project with the Program of Support to the Productive Chain of Maize and Bean Producers (PROMAF), has trained more than 2000 Mexican technicians.
Ruiz-Funes reminded the audience that Mexico will host the G-20 this year. At this international forum, the Mexican Government will propose four strategic axes for agriculture: Research and technology development and transfer; public and private investment; sustainability and adaptation to climate change; and risk management. This will be an important platform for Mexico and MasAgro, as the G-20 recognizes the need to transfer research and technology to farmers, and has a commitment to strengthening international cooperation.
On 16 January 2012, 300 researchers, policy makers, industry specialists, and NGO representatives from 36 nations gathered in Mexico City to launch the MAIZE and WHEAT CGIAR Research Program (CRP) meetings. In opening the proceedings, Pedro Brajcich Gallegos, representing INIFAP and SAGARPA, on behalf of the Government of Mexico, highlighted the importance of these two CRPs in light of the increasing occurrences of extreme weather due to climate change. Mexico is among the affected countries and Brajcich Gallegos pledged the support of the Mexican Government in achieving the goals set out by these two initiatives.
Led by CIMMYT and ICARDA, the WHEAT CRP is expected to deliver enough wheat for an additional 56 million consumers by 2020, and an additional 397 million by 2030. The MAIZE CRP, lead by CIMMYT and IITA, is focused on delivering enough maize to feed an additional 135 million consumers in 2020, and an additional 600 million by 2030. These goals are particularly pertinent given the recent predictions of a UN report, estimating a world population of 10 billion by 2080.
CIMMYT’s Director General, Thomas Lumpkin, delivered a joint presentation with Molly Jahn, Professor, Department of Agronomy and Genetics for the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “This meeting is historic and significant,” declared Jahn, “These two CRPs are a significant development for agricultural research, and people all over the world are watching for the results,” she added.
Representing the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Director of Agricultural Development Programs David Bergvinson delivered a presentation focusing on the increasing need for holistic and systems-based approaches to addressing future food security demands. “Never have so many been so dependent on so few for food,” he said, and went on to stress the need for investment by governments and aid agencies: “We’re all here to lift smallholder farmers out of poverty, and agriculture is the engine with which to do that.”
Marianne Bänziger, CIMMYT Deputy Director General for Research and Partnerships, urged researchers to focus on delivering results to the world’s poorest farmers: “Productivity is not just about yields, but what is actually happening in farmer’s fields,” she said. Bänziger also warned that the food riots of 2008 and 2010 would be repeated, and that it is the responsibility of the international scientific community and policy makers to stem food price increases and improve livelihoods for agricultural producers.
Over the subsequent four days, participants attended presentations and formed discussions and focus groups to identify research priorities and coordinate future work among themselves and with farmers. As expressed by seed producer María E. Rivas-Dávila: “I feel I have a role in the CRPs, because they are thinking at all levels, from researchers to farmers, so I am in the middle.”
Coming from such a wide range of institutions, participants had many different experiences to share. “I intended to bring my experience, but also to gather information, because we have not reached the end of the road,” said Argentinean Agronomist-Producer, Roberto Peiretti. “There is always a lot of opportunity to learn more and more, and I knew that this meeting was going to have such a broad base of worldwide participation, so I was extremely glad to be invited,” he added.
The closing session on Friday 20 January was chaired by Salvador Fernández Rivera, coordinator for research, innovation and partnerships, and agricultural research of Mexico’s National Institute of Forestry, Agriculture, and Livestock Research (INIFAP). Representatives from geographically- and organizationally- diverse partner entities shared impressions and suggestions. Maize breeder James Gethi, of the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), said the type of planning that had been done was critical for better impact and for synergies: “We were all here to improve impact in the welfare of smallholder farmers. How can we achieve this with all the bright minds in the room?” He enjoined national organizations, international centers, seed companies, and other actors to share information and knowledge.
Marilia Nutti, biofortification coordinator in Brazil’s Agricultural Research Corporation, EMBRAPA, said teamwork is the only way. “We need to work with the private sector to speed progress…and with the international community, for sustainable technology.”
Kingstone Mashingaidze, maize scientist with South Africa’s Agricultural Research Council (ARC), warned that partners should not be left behind in the mastery and use of molecular tools. “I don’t think CIMMYT can afford to run alone with molecular breeding tools,” he said. “For national programs, the challenge is if you want to continue to be relevant, then you’d better change the way you do business.”
After the exciting and hectic week of meetings, one shared sentiment was that MAIZE and WHEAT represent precisely that: a chance for everyone to leave behind business as usual and take bold and intelligent action to energize agriculture and meet the global challenges of food security.
A special recognition to Laura Ruíz and the logistics team for their long hours and sleepless nights to make the event the success it was.