Calling on the G8 to meet the food security challenge

Written by Corporate Communications on . Posted in Audio-Video Media & IT, Guest Post

Guest post by Farming First

Ahead of the G8 summit this week in France, Farming First has launched a new online infographic that demonstrates how agriculture can help build a green economy.

Green growth is one of the top items on the meeting agenda and, with the inclusion of African leaders at this year’s summit, the G8 leaders should foster policy coherence on food security and price volatility to achieve agriculture’s potential.

As a critical sector for achieving the G8’s goals of food security and a green economy, we have collected existing data from leading research organisations and assembled it into graphs and visuals to put agriculture forward in the wider political agenda.

The infographic clearly highlights the value and return to investment in agriculture, both in terms of poverty reduction but also in improving food security through increased productivity. The data also draws attention to the impact of agriculture on women’s livelihoods; 41 percent of total farmers worldwide are women, and this goes up to 64 percent in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Despite this, the G8 leaders’s commitment to provide $22 billion to food security by 2012 has yet to be met. Agricultural productivity needs be addressed through investment in agricultural research and extension services, in order to feed a global population of 9 billion in 2050.

Food production must increase to ensure food security now and for future generations and it is increases in yield that will provide over 70 percent of that growth. The World Bank estimates that 1 hectare of land will need to feed five people in 2025, whereas in 1960, 1 hectare was required to feed only 2 people.

However, if we look at investment in agriculture today, the sector has been a victim of underinvestment for a long time, both in terms of government spending and foreign aid. Public spending allocated to agriculture declined to under 7 percent in 2000, and the share of ODA to agriculture fell to 5 percent in 2004.

The implications of a lack of investment are reflected in the present reality of crop yield growth. Grain yield growth in developing countries has fallen from 3% per year from 1961 to 2007, to a 1 percent increase per year today.

As an example of the huge potential that lies in investing in agricultural research, the impact of the Chinese government’s increased investment in agricultural research has helped China achieve year-on-year yield growth, making the country the largest agricultural producer in the world.

Through our infographic, we hope that G8 leaders will recognise the true contribution that farmers can provide to continued global prosperity, while helping to create sustainable livelihoods, reduce poverty and safeguard the environment. If we invest in farmers today, we can seize the challenge of growing a green economy.

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Farming First is a global coalition representing the world’s scientists, engineers and industry as well as more than 100 farmers’ associations and agricultural development organisations. Farming First calls for a broad- based, knowledge-centred approach to increase agricultural output in a sustainable and socially responsible manner.  To view Farming First’s position on the green economy, visit:  www.farmingfirst.org/green-economy

Willkommen, Herr Bundespräsident!

Written by ccastro on . Posted in Events, Genetic resources, Visits to CIMMYT

The long-standing and fruitful relationship between Germany and CIMMYT received a boost on 01 May 2011 when, as part of an official tour of Latin America, the President of the Republic of Germany, Christian Wulff, visited CIMMYT headquarters to learn more of the center’s work and discuss strengthened partnerships. President Wulff was accompanied by his wife, Bettina, and nearly 60 distinguished guests including German vice ministers and members of parliament, embassy personnel, and business and media representatives. Greeting the guests were CIMMYT Director General Tom Lumpkin and several of the center’s German and German-speaking staff.

After touring the main exhibition hall showcasing Dr. Norman Borlaug’s achievements and contributions to agricultural development, including his Nobel Prize of 1970 and the Aztec Eagle of the same year from Mexico, the entourage attended a presentation by Hans-Joachim Braun, Director of CIMMYT’s Global Wheat Program. The talk addressed food security and related constraints—climate change, the rising demand for grains, the increasing scarcity of resources like land, water, and fertilizer—as well as CIMMYT’s work in the developing world and its relationship with Germany, a long-term and significant supporter of the center. To name just a few examples, German contributions have funded work on stress tolerant maize for Africa, a regional wheat network for Central Asia, and wheat pathology research for South Asia. German staff at CIMMYT and our partnerships with German universities and institutes have been of enormous¡ value in getting improved technology to farmers.

The whirlwind tour then moved to the seed bank, with exhibitions of maize and wheat genetic resources outside and a visit inside to the upper seed storage chamber. In an impromptu closing statement, President Wulff thanked CIMMYT and described his positive impression of the visit and Braun’s presentation, which he called one of the clearest and most fact-based he had ever heard. Reports on the visit in the German media have referred to CIMMYT as a “highly-regarded research center.In addition to Lumpkin and Braun, CIMMYT staff interacting with the guests included Marianne Bänziger, deputy director general, research and partnerships; Scott Ferguson, deputy director general, corporate services; Peter Wenzl, head of the crops research informatics lab; Susanne Dreisigacker, molecular biologist and head of marker applications in wheat; GIS expert Kai Sonder; agricultural economist Tina Beuchelt; Marc Rojas, coordinator of the International Strategy for Maize Improvement; and Petr Kosina, assisting with the event management.

A legacy lives on

Written by ccastro on . Posted in Achievements & Awards, Events, Wheat

On Friday 29 April 2011, Nobel Prize Laureate and father of the Green Revolution, Norman E. Borlaug, was awarded an honorary doctorate (postmortem) from the Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Mexico (UAEM) for his lifelong work to improve modern agriculture.

Photo courtesy of UAEM

Although Norman E. Borlaug died in September 2009, his legacy lives on through his many contributions to the development of global agriculture, CIMMYT included. Because of his unwavering determination to feed the world, a ceremony was held at UAEM, Toluca, MX, where Eduardo Gasca Pliego, UAEM President honored Norman E. Borlaug. Dr. Borlaug’s daughter Jeannie Borlaug Laube came down from Texas to receive the honorary doctorate and speak of her father’s work in Mexico, and Toluca specifically, delivering a heartfelt speech in which she fondly recalled her life in Mexico.

CIMMYT Director General Thomas A. Lumpkin attended as one of the speakers for the event, stating:  “(Borlaug) was our spiritual father. His legacy and presence are a part of all of our projects and activities… Many of his values – pragmatism, honesty, hard work, creative problem solving –are reflected in CIMMYT’s culture.”  Lumpkin also expressed his regret that Dr. Borlaug had not lived to witness the launching of MasAgro –a comprehensive initiative of the Mexican Agricultural Secretariat-SAGARPA, CIMMYT, dozens of public and private Mexican organizations, and Mexican farmers to raise crop yields, combat environmental degradation, and confront climate change. He stated that MasAgro has been an integral step in rebuilding the relationship between CIMMYT and Mexico, the decline of which was one of Borlaug’s greatest concerns. Lumpkin added that the launching of MasAgro “… has demonstrated just how far CIMMYT has come in preventing Dr. Borlaug’s fears from coming true.”

The collaboration between UAEM and CIMMYT was also highlighted during the event. As part of MasAgro, the establishment of a long-term, conservation agriculture research plot on the university campus is in the final stages of approval. Research staff of the university will also be involved in testing improved maize varieties as part of MasAgro. Also recognized were the Agriculture Faculty Director, Artemio Balbuena Melgarejo, and scientists María de Guadalupe Gutiérrez and Andrés Morales Osorio for the integral role they have played in building the relationship between the UAEM and CIMMYT. Global Wheat Program Director Hans-Joachim Braun and 20 current and former CIMMYT staff also attended the event, including former CIMMYT wheat researcher and director Sanjaya Rajaram and several specialists who had worked with Dr. Borlaug beginning in the 1950s.

Conservation Agriculture attracts Puebla farmers

Written by ccastro on . Posted in Capacity Building, Conservation Agriculture, Maize

One of the general objectives of Conservation Agriculture and MasAgro is to create linkages, or strengthen already exisiting relations, among private agricultural organizations. With this in mind, a CA training course was conducted at the CIMMYT-Tlaltizapán station in Morelos on 29 April 2011.

The course welcomed 35 agriculture entrepreneurs and three technicians from Puebla, who attended to learn more about CA and how to apply its principals ni their fields.

Óscar Bañuelos, superintendent at Tlaltizapán, began the course by welcoming all the participants. Bañuelos, who also attends Conservation Agriculture‘s technical certification course, applies CA technology throughout the season as a way to reclaim lots in disrepair and as an agronomic alternative to save on production costs.

Pedro Maldonado, President of the State Program of Conservation Agriculture (PEAC) in Puebla, and CA team member Andrea Chocobar also demonstrated at the event. Pedro Maldonado explained the forms of support that the Valles Altos CA Hub offers farmers interested in trying CA. Chocobar spoke about the basic principles of CA, such as the use of machinery as a key factor in the CA adoption process and the different variations of CA.

To end the course, the participants visited the fields of two farmers practicing CA, gowing mainly sorghum. The CA farmers spoke of the advantages of the system and the reasons inspiring its adoption. They also agreed that CA’s results can be seen when soil remains undamaged during times of heavy rain, which has led to significant cost savings and increased production. During the course, the CA team succeeded in promoting and enhancing the participation of producers of sorghum, beans, corn, and barley from the highland and semi-tropical zones of Puebla.

Disseminating new seed in Nepal

Written by ccastro on . Posted in Agronomy, Capacity Building, Events, Wheat

On 28 April 2011, a one-day roaming day seminar on Wheat Seed Production and Rust Disease Management in Nepal attracted 51 farmers interested in quality seed production, and raising wheat production and profitability through adopting new wheat varieties resistant to wheat diseases and rusts.

The event was organized by the Plant Pathology Division, Agri-Botany Division, and the Gene Bank of Nepal Agriculture Research Council (NARC), District Agriculture Development Office, Kavrepalanchok in collaboration with CIMMYT.

The objectives of the day were to: (1) generate awareness of the new agronomically superior Ug99 and yellow rust resistant varieties among farmers, (2) involve farmers in the participatory selection of varieties, (3) generate awareness about proper wheat production technology, and (4) to plan for quality seed production and its dissemination for the next crop cycle. The event took place in the village Chandeni VDC, Juhanetar, Kavrepalanchok, district Kabre, where there are three mother-baby trials of eight wheat varieties, including CIMMYT’s newly-developed agronomicaly superior Ug99 resistant varieties, a few rust resistant varieties from NARC, and WK1204 the farmer-preferred variety.

Madan Bhatta, NARC wheat breeder, opened the event with an explanation of the importance of new resistant varieties, especially with the emergence of new rust virulence, such as that of Ug99, and the strategy being followed for fast track release and dissemination of these varieties. Arun Joshi, CIMMYT wheat breeder, then explained to farmers about CIMMYT’s mission in development and promotion of agronomically superior rust-resistant wheat varieties among farmers in collaboration with NARC and other stakeholders. Next, a team of scientists from NARC, CIMMYT, and state extension department officials took farmers around the wheat plots and introduced each variety to the group, detailing the characteristics, qualities, and differences among them. Every attendee received an informative sheet that included varietal information such as maturity duration, yield potential, and resistance to diseases, which they carried throughout the presentation, eagerly making additional notes.

Following the introduction of the varieties, NARC scientists Sarala Sharma and D.B. Thapa explained the steps involved in participatory selection. Farmers were then divided into three groups and asked to score the wheat varieties they saw in the mother trial according to their own preference. The variety Munal and Danphe emerged as the favorite varieties. Overall, greater grain and straw yield, disease resistance, maturity duration, and grain physical quality were given high preference by farmers.

All farmers expressed a deep interest in growing new varieties in the next crop cycle and said that they expect around a 10 percent higher yield from the selected varieties compared to the local variety, Gautam. To offer additional assurance, agronomy expert Jagat Devi Ranjit gave the participants few tips on how to produce good yields using modern wheat production technology. Several participants inquired about how long the seed can be maintained without any loss in its characteristics, so CIMMYT wheat breeder Arun Joshi explained the general principles of quality seed production and NARC Entomologist Y.P. Giri then explained the principles of pest control and safer seed storage. Also, three leaders from active farmers’ cooperatives attended the field-day and encouraged the participants to start their own farmers’ cooperatives, sharing experiences and expertise. Progressive farmers Prahlad Lamsal and Tiran Nepal, who had only read about these organizations in newspapers, were excited to learn that a farmers’ seed production cooperative can be established in their village.

Overall, the roaming day helped with selection of farmer-identified preferred varieties; improved farmer understanding of the importance of resistant varieties and seed dissemination; planning for new variety promotion for the next crop cycle; and increased interest for further collaboration between farmers, scientists, and development agencies.

German President Mr. Christian Wulff visited CIMMYT headquarters in El Batan

Written by Corporate Communications on . Posted in Events, Visits to CIMMYT

German President Mr. Christian Wulff together with his wife Mrs. Bettina Wullf and group of German vice-ministers and businessmen visiting CIMMYT headquarters in El Batan, Texcoco, Mexico on Sunday May 1, 2011.

<img class="size-medium" title="Dr. Hans Joachim Braun (Director of Global Wheat Program) talking with Ms. Bettina Wulff and German President Mr. Christian online casino Wulff” src=”http://blog.cimmyt.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/11/2011/05/DSC_6945-300×201.jpg” alt=”German President Mr. Christian Wulff” width=”210″ height=”141″ align=”left” />

German President Mr. Christian Wulff

Open Access Publishing increases impact

Written by ccastro on . Posted in Announcements, Capacity Building

Petr Kosina, CIMMYT manager of knowledge, information and training, has recently been promoting Open-Access (OA) publishing through meetings and presentations. OA publishing refers to unrestricted online access to scientific publications (no need to subscribe to the scholarly journal or pay per article or book).

Why is Open Access important for you and for CIMMYT?

Published research results and ideas are the foundation for future progress in science. Open Access publishing leads to wider readership and dissemination of information, particularly to our large audiences in developing countries without the means to pay for expensive journal subscriptions, by providing:

  • Open Access to ideas: Making papers freely available online provides all scientists with the most current peer-reviewed scientific information and discoveries.
  • Open Access to the broadest audience: As a researcher, publishing in an open access journal allows anyone with an interest in your work to read it, which translates into increased usage and impact.

OA articles can be published in two ways, in Open Access Journals (OAJ), or by paying copyrighted journals. Indeed, OA publishing may mean some additional cost for authors (from hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on length of the article and the quality of the journal). However, the cost of publishing is able to be bypassed as most of our donors are ready to accept project proposals with funds allocated to OA publishing. As a matter of fact some of our donors are even demanding it. An example of such is the UK Department for International Development. As well, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is currently discussing the need for OA publications.

Thus, OA publishing is here to stay, and something that we at CIMMYT should consider as a viable alternative to the traditional publishing model. There are already some OA publishing examples in CIMMYT e.g. the GMP research team including Raman Babu and Yunbi Xu has published article in PLoS ONE.

There are currently several thousands of OAJ in many areas of science, and many of them have high impact factors e.g. PLOS Genetics (8.8) or PLOS Biology (12.6)

If you are interested in browsing a list of OA journals, visit the Directory of Open Access Journals or Open Access Journals Gate. Also, CIMMYT library staff will also be happy to assist and to connect you with those who have already published in some OA journals, from CIMMYT and other CGIAR centers.

Continuing wheat research in Nepal

Written by ccastro on . Posted in Agronomy, Asia, Capacity Building, Wheat

Wheat never sleeps in Nepal. On 28 February 2011, a training course addressing, “Wheat disease scoring methodologies” was held at the National Wheat Research Program, Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC), Bhairahawa, in collaboration with CIMMYT.

The course’s objective was to enhance the knowledge and skills of collaborators participating in wheat pathological experiments in Nepal. The workshop provided its participants with instruction on how to obtain good quality, uniform data about wheat diseases. The list of participants included seven scientists and technical officers from various NARC research stations along with five resource persons from NWRP, Bhairahwa –all of whom are actively involved in collaborative wheat pathological research experiments at their research stations.

The training course included both theory and practical sessions that each addressed various aspects of wheat diseases. Janmejai Tripathi, NWRP Wheat Coordinator, delivered a brief introduction about the importance of wheat disease training and the NARSCIMMYT collaboration in Nepal and South Asia.

After opening announcements and addresses, six sessions were conducted to share and discuss the most current ideas on rusts and foliar blight diseases. Also, instruction touched on scoring methodologies at field level.

Deepak Bhandari, NARC wheat pathologist, took the lead in explaining wheat rusts and leaf blight scoring while Nutan Raj Gautam, NARC wheat breeder, was the main person to explain integrating these tools into the wheat breeding process.

Next, participants were taken to the wheat plots where they practiced scoring for each of the three rusts and leaf blight; detailing the scoring method, characteristics of disease symptoms, the differences between each of the rust, and how to record diseases at different growth stages.  All the attendees received an information sheet providing information such as symptoms, scoring methods, inoculation approaches, and proper growth stages for scoring. Participants carried these around throughout the training to make additional notes. The participants appreciated the experience, saying that it improved their ability to record important wheat diseases (rusts and leaf blight) and to plan for the promotion of pathological experiments. It also updated them on the most current NARS/CIMMYT wheat pathological research.

QPM roti wins vote of confidence in Bihar, India

Written by ccastro on . Posted in Asia, Events, Uncategorized

The government of Bihar, a state in eastern India, celebrated its 99th anniversary of independence last month, March 2011. To celebrate, the Bihar government invited CIMMYT, Rajendra Agricultural University (RAU), Bihar and the Directorate of Maize Research, New Delhi to perform a live demonstration of a tortilla-making machine that uses quality protein maize (QPM) grains. The demonstration took place during a 3-day exhibition during 22-24 March in Patna, Bihar, with the goal of popularizing QPM roti among the masses. Roti, common to South Asia, is a regional bread made from stone-ground wholemeal flour.

Raj Kumar, cropping system agronomist, and Raj Gupta, South Asia Coordinator, represented CIMMYT at the Bihar Day celebrations while Head of RAU’s Maize Program Mrityunjya Kumar coordinated the efforts on QPM roti making. Agriculture production commissioner AK Sinha provided space for the installation of the tortilla machine at Gandhi Grounds in Patna, Bihar, and also arranged the logistics for making maize breads and serving them to visitors during the Bihar Day celebrations. Sale of the QPM makka roti by women self-help group volunteers at Bihar Day.

 The tortilla machine, which was imported from Mexico and given to RAU for roti making, was used to prepare QPM tortillas from nearly two tons of QPM. The tortillas were then packaged and sold for INR 10. More than 20,000 packages of QPM tortillas were sold to the public. In addition to general sales, refreshments were provided to visiting Members of Parliament, the Bihar Legislative Assembly, and Senior Officials for Home Consumption. A self-help group of women entrepreneurs, led by Rajkumari, supplied the pickles and helped to package and market the QPM breads.

‘QPM maize rotis with pickle’ received much attention and the demonstration and sales counter attracted a constant, large crowd throughout the day. In fact, the crowd was so large that having only one tortilla machine proved insufficient for meeting the large makka roti demand. Public interest in QPM breads (makka rotis) surprised most consumers, as they said they didn’t expect QPM makka roti to be so tasty. The three-day Bihar celebration allowed CIMMYT and partners to reach close to one million people at the Agriculture Pavilion, raising awareness about the accessibility and benefits of QPM. Narendra Singh, Bihar’s Minister of Agriculture, expressed much interest in the tortilla machine by interacting with scientists, technicians, and the general public to elicit their responses as to determine QPM’s potential in Bihar. As several media outlets covered the event, Mrityunjya Kumar, Usha Singh, and Raj Kumar were interviewed on subjects ranging from QPM makka roti production to consumption, the dietary importance of QPM, QPM hybrid seed production, seed availability, economics of QPM roti, shelf-life of QPM makka roti, and the possibilities of introducing QPM roti into schools.

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: 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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