Second Wheat Improvement and Pathology course focuses on South Asia

Posted by Corporate Communications on . Posted in Asia, Events, Training, Wheat

The second “Wheat Improvement and Pathology” course took place during 16-29 November 2011 in Nepal. Organized by Arun Joshi, CIMMYT Regional Wheat Breeder, in conjunction with the Nepal Agriculture Research Council (NARC) and the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA), the course welcomed 22 early- and mid-career wheat breeders and pathologists from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bhutan, and Afghanistan.

The importance of a multidisciplinary approach to wheat improvement was emphasized through lectures on modern breeding methods and approaches, genetic diversity, wheat pathology, experimental design and statistical analysis, hybrid wheat, biotechnology, bioinformatics, wheat quality, breeding for physiological traits, conservation agriculture, participatory variety selection (PVS), and data sources and knowledge management for wheat scientists.

Dinesh Pariyar, NARC Executive Director, opened the program and spoke of the emerging challenges for wheat breeding in South Asia and the potential to build capacity under the CSISA project by bringing together early-career field scientists from different nations. Ravi Singh, CIMMYT Wheat Breeder, then gave introductory sessions on “Breeding wheat for current and future needs of South Asia” and “Breeding for durable resistance to rust diseases of wheat”, elaborating on the wheat breeding tools and technologies that will enable the development of drought- and heat-tolerant wheat varieties whilst retaining quality and yield potential.

Participants also visited the NARC research station in Khumaltar, Lalitpur, the regional agricultural research station in Lumle, and PVS villages, to engage in discussions with the various stakeholders and undertake practical sessions in field experimentation and sowing. The participants were also shown the tools and techniques for creating artificial online casino epiphytotic rusts and spot blotch.

The diverse range of participants were able to share their experiences and the highlights of their work. Four women scientists were included in the group, and Sabina, who travelled outside of Pakistan for the first time for this course, hopes that her visit “will show the way forward to other women scientists of Pakistan.” Joshi echoed this sentiment, saying: “Our endeavor is to work together in South Asian countries and to produce an environment capable of supporting the needs of talented future scientists and wheat researchers. Future generations of scientists need to keep pace with new science and this course provides them with the most recent knowledge, tools, and methodologies to meet the challenges of the future.”

Overall, the course improved the participants’ understanding on new tools and techniques for wheat breeding, pathology, and their related subjects. It also sparked interest in further collaborations between farmers, scientists and development agencies. Resource personnel for the course included CIMMYT’s Medha Devare, Andrew McDonald, and Bharat Adhikary; NARC’s B.N. Mahto, M.R. Bhatta, D.B. Thapa, and Sarala Sharma; P.K. Gupta, S.M.S. Tomar, Ratan Tiwari, V. Tiwari, C.P. Srivastava, Ramesh Chand, G.C. Mishra, and R.P. Singh from India; and KD Joshi (CARIAD, UK). Special thanks also to the staff of NARC for providing a great venue and logistical support, and to Surath Pradhan for administering the course.

CIMMYT and IRRI Bangladesh build capacity on upland cropping systems

Posted by Corporate Communications on . Posted in Asia, Events, Training

As part of the Cereal System Initiative in South Asia expansion in Bangladesh (CSISA-BD), 21 agricultural field staff and extension personnel from CIMMYT and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) undertook training on improved upland cereal and legume production systems during 01-02 November 2011 in Dhaka.

Focusing on adaptation to conservation agriculturebased cropping, participants received advanced training on elite wheat and maize varieties, quality seed production, fertility, and integrated pest and weed management practices. A key purpose of the training was to prepare staff to support farmers in the upcoming Rabi planting season in Bangladesh. Additional courses were given on the integration of legumes and high-value vegetable production in cereal-based farming systems.

This short course was jointly organized with the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), and will provide a foundation for the intensive, practical field training to be conducted with farmers throughout Bangladesh in early 2012. TP Tiwari, Timothy Krupnik, Dinabandhu Pandit, Elahi Baksh, and BARI’s B. R. Banik, Shahabuddin Ahmed, M. Amiruzzaman, and M. Omar Ali facilitated the training. A.K. M. Salah Uddin (CIMMYT) provided organizational assistance and support.

Beloved family, friends, and colleagues commemorate Chris Dowswell

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On the cold, sunny, highland Mexican morning of 29 November 2011, nearly 80 persons gathered in the pine grove at El Batán to remember Chris Dowswell, former CIMMYT colleague and dear friend to many, who died on Saturday 19 November 2011 in his home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, as a result of health problems at the age of 64. In a moving ceremony presided by deputy director general for research and partnerships, Marianne Bänziger, participants shared recollections or heard messages from others not present but who had worked with or known Chris. What emerged was the complex picture of an amazing man at once modest but frankly righteous, witty and warm, generous and dedicated, and in whom—in the words of friend and colleague Masaaki Miyamota, executive director of the Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA) where Chris worked since 1991—“…the professional and the human being meshed as one.”

Referring to Chris’ long association with Dr. Norman Borlaug as aidede- camp and communications assistant, in a message Jeanie Borlaug Laube and Ronnie Coffman, chair and vice-chair, respectively, of the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative, said “…the two men brought out the best in each other as far as what they were most passionate about, which was the fight against hunger and poverty.”

Those attending included Chris’ widow Silvia Castillo de Dowswell and her family, many of Chris’ Mexican friends, SAA representatives, and former CIMMYT staff. CIMMYT administrative assistant Caritina Venado recalled the very human side of Chris. “He always took the time to ask who you were, how your family was, and if you needed any help.” Juliana Rwelamira, SAA Managing Director of the Sasakawa Africa Association, told how Chris had earned the honorific of “grandfather” because he paid for nannies to care for the children of young mothers so the women could take part in workshops and other activities.

The ceremony closed with the planting of a memorial tree for Chris. “Most appropriate that it’s a Pinus greggi pine,” said Bänziger. “It’s native to Mexico and, like Chris, it’s a bit short and portly and gives good shade, although Chris’ shadow was always brightened by his smile.”

A video of the memorial ceremony will soon be up on the CIMMYT YouTube channel, and further photos can be found on the CIMMYT Facebook page. Chris’ family in the USA has set up a permanent memorial website for tributes, stories, remembrances, pictures, etc. that can be viewed and added to at any time.

CIMMYT and Syngenta: Working together for global food security

Posted by Corporate Communications on . Posted in Events, Wheat

The Director of CIMMYT’s Global Wheat Program, Hans Braun, visited Syngenta in Basel, Switzerland, on 10 October 2011, to present CIMMYT’s current work towards achieving global food security. CIMMYT and Syngenta began collaborating in April 2010, and have been working together to develop multiple projects focused on Ug99 and wheat research activities.

During the presentation, Braun highlighted the need for increased investment in agriculture to address threats to food security, such as emerging diseases. He also stressed the need to further develop and utilize genetic diversity to feed the growing global population. Braun referred to Ug99 as the ‘Bird Flu’ of wheat, in reference to its devastating impact on wheat crops, and its high virulence. He urged the scientific community to focus on the development of durable resistance in wheat, stating that 50% of CIMMYT’s wheat research is focused on maintaining disease resistance alone.

When asked about the nature of public-private partnerships and CIMMYT’s interaction with Syngenta, Braun said: “Why is CIMMYT here? We don’t want to help Syngenta to increase its production in Germany, but we want to look into how we can work together to use some of the technologies for our clients, which are the poor farmers in developing countries. CIMMYT has some contributions which Syngenta can use so it’s really a win-win situation.”

CIMMYT and Syngenta will be expanding their areas of collaboration by developing new projects on rust control, hybrid wheat, heat tolerance and crop enhancement.

11th Asian Maize Conference is the BIGGEST yet

Posted by Corporate Communications on . Posted in Asia, Events, Maize

The 11th Asian Maize Conference “Addressing climate change effects and meeting maize demand for Asia” took place during 07-11 November 2011 in Nanning, China. Nearly 375 scientists and resource personnel from 22 maize-growing countries participated, along with representatives of several large seed companies and NGOs.

The conference was jointly organized by CIMMYT and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), and hosted by the Guangxi Academy of Agricultural Sciences (GXAAS) and the Guangxi Maize Research Institute (GMRI). The choice of location recognizes the increasing demand for maize in China; whilst China grows more maize than any other crop, and produces 180 million tonnes annually, it also imports nearly 14 million tonnes. China’s expanding middle class is eating more poultry, eggs, and pork; meat consumption in China has tripled since 1980 and China currently accounts for half the world’s consumption of pork. Of the total maize produced in Asia, 70% is used to feed animals, whilst just 23% is used for direct consumption.

Maize consumption is also increasing in other Asian countries: in Indonesia, imports of maize are estimated to double from 2010 levels to 3.2 million tonnes this year, and at 16 million tones, Japan is the world’s largest importer of maize. These increases are expected to continue.

The conference was opened by Yangrui Li (President, GXAAS), Ren Wang (Vice-President, CAAS), Thomas Lumpkin (Director General, CIMMYT), and Chen Zhangliang (Vice-Governor, Guangxi Provincial Government). They highlighted the growing importance of maize in the developing world, especially Asia, and the need for strong international collaborations to address challenges in maize-based systems.

Keynote speakers included BM Prasanna (Director, Global Maize Program, CIMMYT), Shihuang Zhang (Chief Expert, Crop Science Institute, CAAS), Greg Edmeades (retired scientist and former CIMMYT Maize Physiologist), Daniel Jeffers (Maize Breeder, CIMMYT-China), Gary Atlin (Associate Director, Global Maize Program, CIMMYT), Roberto Tuberosa (University of Bologna, Italy), Kevin Pixley (Director, Genetic Resources Program, CIMMYT), Adrian Johnson (Vice-President, International Plant Nutrition Institute), Bekele Shiferaw (Director, Socioeconomics Program, CIMMYT), and Yiqing Song (CAAS), along with many invited speakers. They covered a range of topics from conservation agriculture systems, to site-specific nutrient management and nutritionally improved maize. Sessions also highlighted recent developments in the CIMMYT-led MAIZE comprehensive research program, including technological advances such as the use of double haploids, phenotyping tools, and the large-scale genotyping initiative, Seeds of Discovery.

Participants also discussed the increasing frequency of natural disasters in Asia, and the effects these have on food production. Floods in Pakistan, droughts in China, and water stress in India have all impacted the ability of Asian maize producers to meet consumption demands.

The conference concluded with a Maize Field Day, organized by Cheng Weidong at the GMRI research station, where landraces and promising hybrids were demonstrated. Participants praised the success of the conference, with Bijender Pal (Senior Maize Breeder, Bioseed) stating: “The conference was very well organized, with excellent lectures by the experts on various key aspects, and a comprehensive treatment of the key issues for maize in Asia.”

Warming up to the conference with the MAIZE Asia Interface

As a preface to the Asian Maize Conference, almost 70 scientists, representatives of private sector seed companies, members of the International Maize Improvement Consortium of Asia, and NGOs participated in the MAIZE Asia interface on 07 November 2011. Chaired by CIMMYT’s Director General, Thomas Lumpkin, the meeting aimed to present the main strategic initiatives and vision of the MAIZE project to key Asian partners and stakeholders, outline challenges, promote collaborations, and discuss how to disseminate relevant technologies for the benefit of smallholder maize farmers in Asia.

More CIMMYT in the media!

Posted by Corporate Communications on . Posted in CIMMYT in the media, Uncategorized

By 2050, it’s estimated that our global population will exceed 9 billion. How are we going to feed them all? Jon Miller from Marketplace.org visited CIMMYT to learn about the Green Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, and how CIMMYT is trying to increase yields and improve sustainability. You can watch and read more about his findings here.

CIMMYT features in GRDC's Ground Cover magazine

Posted by Corporate Communications on . Posted in CIMMYT in the media, Wheat

GRDCThe November-December 2011 issue of the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s (GRDC) magazine, Ground Cover, stressed the importance of continued funding of wheat research, and highlighted the role of Australian institutions such as the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in advancing CIMMYT’s research.

In 2010, the GRDC and ACIAR contributed over 10 percent of CIMMYT’s annual budget, and CIMMYT’s Director General, Thomas Lumpkin, expressed his gratitude for their sustained support; a reflection of their many shared values in wheat breeding and development, he said. This investment has a significant return: over 90 percent of the wheat currently grown in Australia has ancestry originating from CIMMYT’s genebank.

To read the full story click here.

Drought tolerant maize for Africa award recognizes Zimbabwe partners

Posted by Corporate Communications on . Posted in Achievements & Awards, Africa, Maize

On 14 November 2011 Thokozile Ndlela and Charles Mutimaamba of Zimbabwe’s Crop Breeding Institute received the DTMA Breeding Team Award for southern Africa. It was presented by Cosmos Magorokosho, CIMMYT Zimbabwe Maize Breeder, at a management meeting of the Department of Research and Specialist Services of the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development of the Government of Zimbabwe, at their head office in Harare. The award consisted of USD 3000 and a silver tray that the winners will be able to display until it is reawarded next year.

“We truly appreciate this award, because it recognizes the efforts of all our team and shows our commitment to DTMA,” said Charles Mutimaamba. This is the third consecutive year that the Crop Breeding Institute has won the award in recognition of their outstanding achievements in maize breeding for drought tolerance. The team has consistently maintained a pedigree breeding program at Harare Research Station, using local and CIMMYT germplasm, and has been testing improved hybrids at two drought screening locations in southern Zimbabwe. The Crop Breeding Institute has also regularly submitted hybrids into the CIMMYT regional trials for widespread testing. Two drought tolerant hybrids, ZS263 and ZS265, were recently released and are in the process of seed scaleup with local seed companies.

Conservation agriculture for rainfed smallholder maize systems of eastern India

Posted by ccastro on . Posted in Agronomy, Asia, Capacity Building, collaborative projects, Conservation Agriculture, Maize

During 19-23 October 2011, Birsa Agriculture University (BA7U), Jharkhand, India, hosted a short course on “Conservation Agriculture in Rainfed Small Holder Maize Farming Systems”, under the aegis of the IFAD “Sustainable Intensification of Smallholder Maize- Livestock Farming Systems in Hill Areas of South Asia” project. The course aimed to provide practical exposure on key elements of conservation agriculture (CA), including calibration and operation of planting machinery, and component technologies of CA-based crop management solutions. Over 25 participants attended, including researchers and extension agents from BAU, Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs), State Department of Agriculture, NGOs, private sector, and service providers from across Jharkhand.

The course was inaugurated by A. K. Sarkar, Acting Vice Chancellor, BAU, with assistance from D.K. Singh ‘Dron’, Assistant Director of Research, BAU, Ken Sayre, CA Consultant, CIMMYT, and coordination by ML Jat, Senior Cropping Systems Agronomist, GCAP, CIMMYT. The course covered the basics of CA, with particular relevance to smallholder rainfed farming systems, including the calibration and operation of CA machinery, component technologies of residue, nutrient, weed management, and diversification, and how these technologies can be adapted for the region through partnerships with stakeholders, including farmers. A range of CA machinery (manual and animal-drawn, two- and four-wheel tractors), introduced to the region by CIMMYT and particularly suited to rainfed smallholder farmers, was demonstrated. Participants also shared their experiences of IFAD CA projects undertaken so far and discussed strategies for balancing crop-livestock integration, in relation to CA, as livestock is an important factor in rainfed farming systems.
The concept of ‘Basic-Strategic Research-Delivery’ continuums within the hubs concepts of South Asia (CSISA) and Mexico (MasAgro) were explained to the participants. It was highlighted that in IFAD, a similar pattern is being followed for a value chain solution of technology packages to the farmers.

Pillar of maize: A special salute to scientists who uncovered its domestication and diversity

Posted by ccastro on . Posted in Achievements & Awards, Announcements, Maize

An extraordinary session of the ASA/CSSA/SSSA convention in San Antonio, Texas, during 16-19 October 2011, honored researchers who have dedicated their professional lives to understanding and using the diversity of the amazing food crop, maize, and its wild relatives Tripsacum and teosinte. Entitled “The mysteries of maize: A recognition of pillars in maize science,” the session paid tribute to the careers of Major Goodman, Hugh Iltis, Takeo Ángel Kato Yamakake, Wilfredo Salhuana, José de Jesús Sánchez González, and H. Garrison Wilkes, as well as CIMMYT’s own Suketoshi Taba and José Crossa.

The session was moderated by Carolyn Lawrence, assistant professor at Iowa State University and a member of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA-ARS) team managing the Maize Genetics & Genomics Database (MaizeGDB). Wilkes led off with a presentation about the in-situ conservation of teosinte and its co-evolution with maize. Among the other speakers, Taba talked about the potential for further use of the Mexican maize race Tuxpeño in future breeding work and thanked participants for their collaboration, consultation, and encouragement in developing the CIMMYT maize collection during his career. Closing the session was former CIMMYT molecular biologist and current USDA-ARS research geneticist Marilyn Warburton, who discussed issues around the use and conservation of the Zea gene pool.

Profiles of the pillars. A professor at the Colegio de Postgraduados, Kato is among many distinguished Mexican scientists whose contributions to research on maize evolution and diversity predate the advent of DNA markers; besides elucidating chromosome knob patterns for American maize races, he studied in partnership with late Nobel Laureate and cytogeneticist Barbara McClintock the possible migration and integration of maize germplasm. University of Guadalajara professor the collection and characterization of Mexican maize races and teosinte, the wild relative from which maizedirectly evolved.

During many years as a researcher at Pioneer, Salhuana was instrumental in efforts to identify and transfer useful diversity from tropical to temperate maize. Professor Emeritus of Botany at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Iltis is best known for studies on the domestication of maize, for leading a team of botanists who discovered the Zea diploperennis teosinte species, and for advocating the conservation of teosinte in natural habitats. Director of Maize Breeding and Genetics at North Carolina State University, Goodman helped lay the genetics and breeding groundwork to clarify and synthesize relationships among maize genetic resources, and has strongly supported the conservation of Latin American maize.

In addition to his interest in the evolution of maize, retired University of Massachusetts at Boston professor Wilkes has focused on economic botany, the genetics of domestication, and the promotion of effective gene banks and policies to conserve and use plant genetic resources. A regular visitor to CIMMYT, Wilkes helped improve and strengthen the center’s maize seed conservation systems and its global role as a genetic resource preserver and promoter.

Retired CIMMYT biometrician and distinguished scientist Crossa has helped define key methodologies for conserving and using the center’s maize genetic resources, including proper procedures to regenerate older seed samples or to form representative subsets of large collections. The head of maize genetic resources, Taba has worked at CIMMYT since 1975. His many accomplishments include coordinating the work of national seed banks in 13 Latin American countries to rescue and regenerate more than 15,000 endangered seed collections of native maize races. He has also pioneered farmer participatory approaches to improve maize landraces while retaining essential qualities that farmers value, and has developed core subsets of major maize race collections. Finally, his abiding interest in conserving and studying maize wild relatives has expanded CIMMYT’s teosinte collections and lately led to his discovery of a new perennial teosinte in western Mexico.

“Maize’s domestication over 9,000 years from teosinte to a productive food crop is an incredible story,” said Taba. “These scientists have helped bring it to light, as well as defining the diversity that will give maize farmers new traits to meet the challenges of food scarcity and climate change.”

The special session was organized by Tom Payne, head of wheat genetic resources at CIMMYT, and Candice Gardener, research leader / supervisory plant biologist for the US Department of Agriculture (USDA-ARS-MWA-PIRU).

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; www.cimmyt.org. 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: Katelyn Roett, Km. 45 Carretera México -Veracruz, El Batán, Texcoco, Estado de México. C. P. 56150, México. Weekly update. © CIMMYT 2014.

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