Indian dignitaries and guests celebrate the life and work of Norman E. Borlaug

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NB-1aDuring 21-22 November, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) hosted a major tribute ceremony for Norman E. Borlaug at its NASC complex in New Delhi. Some 200 participants attended the inaugural session, which featured a welcome and memorial address by Mangala Rai, secretary, Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE), ICAR director general and former CIMMYT Trustee. There were memorial addresses by T Nanda Kumar, secretary, Department of Agriculture and Cooperation (DAC); Mahmoud Solh, director general, ICARDA; M.S. Swaminathan, chairman, MSSRF; and K.V. Thomas, honorable minister of state (Agriculture).

Thomas Lumpkin’s presentation, entitled “India’s ‘Annadaata’ — Father of the Green Revolution,” was very well-received, according to global wheat program director Hans Braun. Braun, along with CIMMYT distinguished scientist Ravi Singh and Raj Gupta, South Asia coordinator, delivery and adaptation of cereal technology, took part in the tribute and the 1.5-day technical sessions on increasing wheat yields, controlling wheat rust diseases, promoting conservation agriculture, managing climate change and abiotic stresses, and wheat quality improvement. A valedictory function was attended as well by Sharad Pawar, minister of agriculture, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution.

CA training in India

Written by Corporate Communications on . Posted in Agronomy, Capacity Building

AC-india1Nearly 20 delegates from North Bengal Agriculture University’s agricultural outreach stations and several local farmers attended a conservation agriculture (conservation agriculture) traveling training seminar in India during 29-30 October 2009.

At a field owned by farmer Paras Nath and located in Paghra village of the Samastipur District, presenters explained laser-land leveling, zero-tillage, and bed planting. The first presenter, Sanjeev Kumar, service engineer from the laser manufacturing company Leica, Elcom Technologies Pvt Limited, in Gurgaon, India, described the use of the laser system and provided hands-on training for laser-land leveling, a practice that improves productivity and conserves irrigation water. Next, CIMMYT agronomist Raj Kumar demonstrated zero-till planting for lentils and bed planting for maize.

AC-India2Participants then traveled to Rajendra Agriculture University’s (RAU), Pusa Farm, where they saw CA-based longterm experimental trials of rice-wheat and rice-maize systems. Following this, the delegation visited participatory trials of zero-till rice and listened to additional CA information and herbicide application techniques presented by CSISA hub manager Ravi Gopal. Finally, S. Chowdhury, CIMMYT seed production specialist, spoke about new wheat varieties suitable for the eastern Indo- Gangetic Plains.

Nutritious and delicious

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India1Tortillas made from quality protein maize (QPM) are now being sold on the streets in Patna, the capital city of Bihar, India. CIMMYT-India donated a QPM tortilla unit to Magadh Credit Cooperative Society (MCCS) and the society is now selling five tortillas with curry for about US$ 0.25 (10-12 rupees). The program is based on a “meals on wheels” scheme and the food will be sold at mobile shops and Sudha milk booths across Patna. The goal is to provide affordable, healthy food to the city’s urban poor. CIMMYT and Cereal System Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) are working to strengthen inbred production of hybrid QPM seed in eastern India to support this production chain.

Symposium at CIMMYT for wheat yield consortium

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

SimposiumWheatNearly 60 world-renowned scientists and wheat experts gathered at El Batán during 10-13 November 2009 for the intensive workshop “Complementary strategies to raise wheat yield potential.” The event was divided into four main topics: imperatives for raising wheat yield potential; improving crop photosynthesis; optimizing adaption, yield, and lodging resistance; and combining complementary traits through breeding. The ultimate aim is to get new, high-yielding wheat varieties to farmers as quickly as possible.

“This consortium is hugely valuable because we bring together expertise from very different areas and direct it toward one goal: improving wheat yield potential,” says Xinguang Zhu, and workshop participant and principal investigator from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. “By working on things together, we greatly improve our chance of realizing this goal.”

The week was also an opportunity to further establish a consortium that will continue collaboration to improve wheat yields, says Matthew Reynolds, wheat physiologist and initiator of the consortium. A fullyfunctional consortium will require an estimated USD 25-30 million for five years.

Maize as a cash intercrop with perennials in Colombia

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For about six years, CIMMYT and the large Colombian producer federations for coffee (FEDERECAFE) and cereals (FENALCE) have partnered to help coffee growers profit by cropping maize in the rows between pruned coffee plants, obtaining as many as three maize harvests while the coffee plants grow back. Led by maize breeder Luis Narro, CIMMYT has contributed hybrids that yield as much as 10 tons per hectare and are resistant to locally-important fungal diseases, particularly those caused by Cercospora zeae-maydis and Phyllachora maydis. As one result, over the short life of this work maize area in coffee zones has already gone from 5,000 to 60,000 hectares, with a potential area of 150,000 hectares.

This success has also bred a new partnership involving CIMMYT, FENALCE, and the Federation of Oil Palm Growers (FEDEPALMA), in which palm plantations will obtain three to four maize harvests while palm plants complete their growth cycle. Oil palms are grown on 350,000 hectares in Colombia, though the potential is 10 times that area. The palm-maize intercrop seems especially attractive given that many Colombian plantations are completely renewing their oil palm stands, due to severe attacks of bud rot disease (Phytophthora palmivora). This disease and other constraints are severely affecting smallscale (less than five hectares) palm growers in locations like Tumaco, who were previously earning at least USD 1,500 per month selling palm for oil extraction. Critically, farmers’ production losses also represent lost employment for farm hands, who are typically economically-disadvantaged. Growing maize offers a profitable hedge for all, while producers wait for the new generation of palm plants to come on line.

To date, 500 experimental maize hybrids have been tested in trials in 4 oil palm plantation zones. According to 90 farmers who took part in a field day in Tumaco on 30 October 2009, the trial results have been good. The highest yields surpassed 10 tons per hectare, with yields of 7 tons and profits of USD 1,500 per hectare on small-scale farmers’ plots.

“Maize could be of interest for farmers who might otherwise be tempted to grow drug crops, ” says Narro. “Maize also offers a profitable alternative for farmers in marginal zones who grow coconut palms in countries threatened with total crop loss from the lethal yellowing diseases.”

Ensuring a positive, productive workplace

Written by Corporate Communications on . Posted in Capacity Building

As an international center, CIMMYT unites people of various nationalities, cultures, and backgrounds. Sensitivity and respect are key to the way we work. During 3-6 November 2009, El Batán hosted a Dignity Advisors Training workshop that stressed the importance of cross cultural communication and of maintaining a workplace free of harassment and unacceptable behavior.

“A dignity advisor is a trained staff member who is aware of what the different types of inappropriate behavior are and what the appropriate institutional channels are for dealing with them,” said Marco Noordeloos, Gender & Diversity Program (G&D) executive officer. “They are there to listen and help a person who is experiencing harassment decide what to do next.”

courseDATNearly 30 CIMMYT staff attended the workshop, including members of regional offices in Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Turkey. On the last day of the course, several of the participants took part in a seminar open to all CIMMYT staff. Topics included the four main types of harassment (general, abuse of power, sexual, and discrimination) and why victims often don’t report incidents.

“About 99% of the time, a problem can be fixed by staff development and improving supervisor skills. But the egregious things are never accidents,” said Vicki Wilde, G&D leader. “Neither situation is acceptable. When you sign a CGIAR center contract, you sign up to maintain the highest levels of standard possible; even one person acting poorly can negatively affect an institution and those working for it.”

The Diversity Advisor workshop is one of several offered by the CGIAR’s Gender & Diversity Program. For a decade G&D has been visiting CGIAR centers to “leverage rich staff diversity to increase research and management excellence.” This is the first time G&D has visited CIMMYT in over seven years.

The following colleagues have completed Diversity Advisor training, have an open-door policy, and will maintain confidentiality: Scott Ferguson; Marisa De la O; Manuel Martínez; Paty Villaseñor; Leonor Herradura; Óscar Bañuelos; María Paula De León; Jonalyn Gumafelix; Teresa Rodríguez; Sridhar Bhavani; Petr Kosina; Gerardo Carstens; Pedro Aquino; Víctor Hernández; Ciro Sánchez; Germán Mingramm; Caritina Venado; Fabiola Mendoza; Fred Kanampiu; Sarah Kibera; Dan Makumbi; Seher Turkyilmaz; Julie Nicol; Cosmos Magorokosho; Peter Setimela; Mulugetta Mekuria.

Training and seminar on rice residue management

Written by Corporate Communications on . Posted in Agronomy, Capacity Building, Wheat

A farmer-led organization in Punjab, India co-organized a course with the Cereal System Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) in response to farmers’ demands for more information about sustainable cropping practices. The course was held at the Agricultural Co-Operative Staff Training Institute in Jalandhar on 20 October 2009 and focused on efficient rice residue management techniques and related machinery. Over 200 participants attended.

Kamaldeep Singh Sangha, joint registrar cooperative, opened the event by pointing out two negatives of burning crop residues: it increases air pollution and decreases the amount of beneficial organic material in the soil. Several agricultural scientists and extension workers then contributed additional facts about the shortcomings of the practice.

“To save our atmosphere and improve our air quality we must stop the practice of burning residues,” said H.S. Sidhu, Punjab hub manager from CSISA, adding that to increase rice-wheat system yields, at least 50% of straw should be left on the field. With the added biomass, rice yields increase in three to four years, and with only one tractor pass needed, the cost of maintaining wheat fields is reduced USD 100 per hectare. Additionally, the straw maintains soil moisture; suppresses growth of the grass Phalaris minor; minimizes the negative aff ect on yield that high temperatures during wheat maturity cause; and allows a rotation of the short-duration crop saathi moong between the rice and wheat crops.

Sidhu then introduced participants to residue-friendly seeding machinery, such as the Turbo Happy Seeder. In one pass this machine uses direct drilling into a combine-harvested field and allows farmers to plant wheat immediately after their rice harvest, eliminating the eight to nine days of lag common when sowing under conventional practices.

Only five participants said they had known about the Turbo Happy Seeder before the course, but those who had seemed satisfi ed. “After a year with straw-managed fields and using the Turbo Happy Seeder, my rice crop was in bett er condition than those that were managed with burnt residues,” said Praduman Singh from the village Nagar, one of the five. By the end of the course, 22 co-operative farming societies expressed interest in purchasing one of the machines so that their member farmers could experiment with new technology.

“A farmer-led initiative like this that is demand-driven, contemporary, and organized to solve a specific problem is part of a revolutionary shift in Indian agriculture,” said Raj Gupta, CIMMYT South Asian coordinator, delivery and adaption cereal technology.

The course also highlighted fertilizer application and irrigation management. Toward the end, course leaders answered any final questions and distributed contact details for Turbo Happy Seeder manufacturers. Course participants included local agriculture development officers and farmers from the districts of Amritsar, Jallandhar, Kapurthala, Hosiarpur, and Gurdaspur.

“GreenSeeker” sensor in northern Mexico

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Seeker1For several years wheat farmers in Sonora State, Mexico, have used infrared sensors to target nitrogen applications more effi ciently. Now, farmers in other major commercial farming regions in Mexico— Guanajuato State, the Mexicali Valley in Baja California, and Sinaloa— also want to experience these savings.

During 21-22 October 2009 partners from these four northern states gathered in Ciudad Obregón to discuss sensor technology transfer through a project funded by the Mexican Ministry of Agriculture. The process has three one-year steps: planting experimental plots with various nitrogen rates and taking readings with the sensor; testing the sensor technology in one hectare sized farmer plots; and finally applying the technology to larger areas. Farmers in Guanajuato State and the Mexicali Valley will work with their wheat fields while those in Sinaloa and Sonora (the first Mexican state to embrace the technology) will work with maize. A corresponding meeting on 22 October highlighted the results of a technology transfer program in southern Sonora with GreenSeeker, the brand name of the infrared sensor used.

In the last crop cycle, 6,400 hectares of wheat across 271 plots in Sonora were managed using GreenSeeker. Of these 101 were evaluated to show an average savings of 70 kg of nitrogen per hectare, which equaled a monetary savings of US$ 90 per hectare. These plots produced the same yield as those under conventional nitrogen management.

Seeker2Farmers and farmers’ associations received recognition for providing support to the program. Major contributing associations include the technology adoption leader Union of Industrial and Agricultural Credit “Colonos de Irrigación” (UCAICISA) with 1,700 hectares last cycle; the Agricultural Credit Union of Huatabampo (UCAH) with 1,000 hectares; and Agricultural Credit Union of Mayo (UCAMAYO) with 900 hectares. The goal is to increase the total number of hectares of wheat cropped with GreenSeeker in Sonora to 15,000 in the fall-winter 2009-10 cycle.

World Food Summit 2009

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The three-day World Food Summit led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) starts Monday 16 November in Rome. Nearly 60 heads of state are expected to attend to discuss important issues related to food security such as climate change adaptation and mitigation, rural development, and the economic crisis. Show your support by signing the related online petition at

CIMMYT staff accepts numerous awards

Written by Corporate Communications on . Posted in Achievements & Awards

Pat Wall obtains ASA recognition


On 02 November 2009, the American Society of Agronomy (ASA) presented Pat Wall, director of CIMMYT’s global conservation agriculture program, with its “International Service in Agronomy Award” in recognition of two decades of work to adapt the principles of conservation agriculture for farmers in developing countries, especially resourcepoor smallholders. As a recipient of the award, Wall joins the ranks of giants such Norman E. Borlaug, Edwin J. Wellhausen, Sterling Wortman, Jack R. Harlan, Ernest W. Sprague, Gurdev S. Khush, Sanjaya Rajaram, Ronald P. Cantrell, and Rattan Lal. Congratulations, Pat

Zhonghu He selected for CSSA fellow


Zhonghu He, principal scientist of CIMMYT’s Global Wheat Program and country representative in China was selected for the 2009 Fellow of Crop Science Society of America (CSSA). The awarding ceremony was held on 3 November during the ASACSSA- SSSA International Annual Meeting in Pitt sburgh. Dr. He made signifi cant contributions in improving Chinese wheat quality, development and application of molecular markers, promotion of international and domestic collaboration, and training. He also received the most prestigious award from Chinese government in 2008 and CGIAR Regional Award in 2007.

Former-CIMMYT staff awarded

Former CIMMYT employee William Raun recently received the Eminent Faculty Award from Oklahoma State University (OSU) where he works as a regents professor in the department of plant and soil sciences. The award is given to university individuals for outstanding service to OSU. Raun, who continues to collaborate with CIMMYT, received the special recognition for his work with nitrogen use efficiency.

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.

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