Annual Report 2017

Joining forces against fall armyworm in Africa

This devastating pest could lead to maize losses as high as $6.2 billion per year in Africa, with a need for $150 to $200 million annually to mitigate related damage.

Seeds of hope: Reducing malnutrition in Haiti

Jumpstarting the maize seed sector with 150 tons of improved seed.

Energizing Ethiopia's wheat seed sector

Seed unions enlist farmer cooperatives to dramatically scale wheat seed production.

Connecting the dots in maize seed systems of Africa and Latin America

Helping more than 100 small and medium-scale seed companies in Africa and Latin America to assess potential markets and to seize new opportunities.

Mechanization fuels rural opportunities across the globe

Appropriate mechanization can support the sustainable intensification of agri-food systems.

Zinc-enriched wheat fights malnutrition in Pakistan

Years of biofortification research and breeding have resulted in Zincol, a wheat variety with 20 percent more zinc than conventional varieties.

Better varieties, systems and incomes for African farmers

Eight years of work by the Sustainable Intensification of Maize-Legume Cropping Systems for Food Security in Eastern and Southern Africa (SIMLESA) project has facilitated the release of 40 improved maize and 64 legume varieties to smallholder farmers in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and spill-over countries (Botswana, Rwanda, and Uganda).

Led by CIMMYT and funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), SIMLESA has also helped over 235,000 farming households to adopt more sustainable crop management practices and cope with the effects of climate change and declining soil fertility.

“With the project closing in June 2018, we’re consolidating cropping trials, training farmers, and laying the foundation for follow-up research on sustainable intensification, diversification, smallholder mechanization, and crop-livestock integration across Africa,” said Mulugetta Mekuria, CIMMYT senior scientist and SIMLESA project leader.

Message from the Chair of the Board of Trustees

Supporting the Center's quality research and staff for impact

In 2017, CIMMYT maintained and strengthened its integrated application of excellent science for impact, carried out through multiple partnerships with a strong emphasis on capacity building, to fulfill its mission.

Underpinning those efforts, the Center’s new resource mobilization strategy seeks to nurture relationships with traditional donors as well as to develop exciting alternative funding pathways, and is closely linked with Center project management.

This year, CIMMYT played a pivotal role in facing major new threats such as wheat blast in Asia and fall armyworm in Africa.

With an emphasis on crops for future climates, through cross-institutional projects the Center is strategically testing and promoting maize and wheat agri-food systems that address changing climates in Africa and South Asia.

CIMMYT also afforded me a fantastic look at the field-level application of sustainable intensification practices and technologies through a visit with farmers and partners in Celaya, Mexico, a breadbasket region beset by natural resource challenges.

As part of addressing the 2015 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), CIMMYT is working to facilitate linkages within CGIAR and among public and private partners worldwide.

As always, the Board is impressed with the quality of CIMMYT science, staff, and impacts, and thanks the Center’s steadfast funders for their support, as well as welcoming new contributors. We look forward to helping the Center build partnerships, further its institutional capacity, and strengthen resource-mobilization intelligence systems, as it executes its strategy.

Nicole L. Birrell, Chair of the Board of Trustees
CIMMYT Trustees in 2017. First row (l to r): Ramesh Chand, Rita Mumm, Martin Kropff (Director General), Nicole Birrell, William (Bill) Angus. Second row: Harry de Roo, Marianne Bänziger (Deputy Director General), Raúl Gerardo Obando Rodríguez, Bongiwe Njobe, Feng Feng. Third row: José Cacho, Bob Semple, Neal Gutterson. Not pictured: José Eduardo Calzada Rovirosa, Alfonso Cebreros Murillo, Luis Fernando Flores Lui.

Message from the Director General

CIMMYT science and partnerships: Changing lives for the better

In 2017, CIMMYT and partners were at the center of global responses to several grave challenges to maize and wheat agriculture. In South Asia, we supported the fast-track release by Bangladesh of a new variety that resists wheat blast, a deadly and mysterious disease that appeared for the first time in the region in 2016. In Africa, our staff coordinated with global, regional, and national partners on an integrated strategy to control fall armyworm, a pest from the Americas that since 2016 has devastated over 1.5 million hectares of Africa’s maize. In the Americas, CIMMYT provided Haiti with 150 tons of improved maize seed to assist farmers and replenish emergency reserves as part of the nation’s recovery from the impact of earthquakes, droughts, and hurricanes.

Successful resource mobilization this year included exciting new directions and partnerships, such as the agreement with Henan Agricultural University in China, to open a joint maize and wheat research center, or the launch with Nestlé in Mexico of a responsible sourcing collaboration in which thousands of Mexican farmers will use sustainable practices to produce more than some 400,000 tons of maize and wheat.

In support of the dynamic new CGIAR research portfolio for 2017-22, CIMMYT is providing leadership and guidance and will oversee the new Excellence in Breeding Platform.

I offer sincere thanks to funders and other partners and stakeholders for your unwavering support of CIMMYT’s mission, especially in today’s uncertain and challenging circumstances. We are proud to work with you as a significant force for good.

Martin Kropff, Director General

CGIAR Research Programs and Platforms

New maize varieties and intensive efforts to tackle a deadly pest in Africa

MAIZE partners around the world released 79 new maize varieties in 2017, including 44 in sub-Saharan Africa, 26 in Latin America, and 9 in South Asia. In addition to high and stable yield potential, these varieties include traits such as tolerance to heat and drought, as well as resistance to devastating maize diseases, such as maize lethal necrosis (MLN), maize streak virus, tar spot complex, and the parasitic weed known as striga. Twenty-one of the varieties are biofortified through breeding for enhanced grain nutrients to combat malnutrition.

To stop the fall armyworm (FAW), a devastating pest from the Americas that continues its march across sub-Saharan Africa, MAIZE has worked closely with international and national partners, organizing stakeholder consultations and training events and producing a comprehensive technical guide on the integrated management of FAW. The MAIZE team has developed MLN-resistant maize hybrids that are now available in eastern Africa. The release of second-generation tropicalized haploid inducers and the use of doubled haploid lines in breeding programs have great potential to reduce breeding times and costs.

Wheat seed offers farmers resilience and nutrition

Applying advanced science, field research, and innovation in extension, WHEAT partners worked to raise the productivity and affordable availability of wheat for 2.5 billion resource-poor consumers in 89 countries. In 2017, national partners in 16 countries released 65 wheat varieties, derived all or in part from the research of CIMMYT or its principal WHEAT partner, the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA).

In response to Ethiopia’s worst drought in 50 years and a critical shortage of maize and wheat seed, Ethiopian organizations, seed producers, and CIMMYT partnered to deliver to farmers over 3,400 tons of high-quality seed that was sown on more than 100,300 hectares, reaching 271,000 rural households and benefiting 1.6 million people.

Bangladesh released a high-yielding wheat variety that is resistant to wheat blast, a fungal disease from the Americas that appeared in Bangladesh in 2016 and threatens some 7 million hectares of wheat land in South Asia. Bred in record time from a CIMMYT wheat line and called BARI Gom 33, the new release also features enhanced levels of zinc, a key micronutrient lacking in the diets of millions in the region.

Evidence-based approaches for gender in agricultural research

MAIZE and WHEAT have contributed to and drawn lessons from GENNOVATE, a CIMMYT-led study involving more than 7,500 rural men and women in 26 countries, as well as 11 CRPs and nearly a dozen crops and other agricultural outputs. In 2017, the initiative delivered reports on study outcomes to MAIZE, WHEAT, and other CRPs, as well as made available a suite of tools and resources for scientists applying gender-aware approaches.

Excitement around excellence in breeding

In 2017, the CIMMYT-led Excellence in Breeding Platform (EiB) completed an online portal that will host breeding knowledge, tools, services, and learning modules. Platform leaders Michael Quinn and Marianne Bänziger visited breeders throughout CGIAR to promote the EiB to centers and partners, and obtain feedback on the EiB approach. Members commit to a suite of seven recommended breeding improvements.

Broad CGIAR research engagements

CIMMYT is a leading implementation partner in the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), as well as participating in the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets, the Big Data for Agriculture Platform, and the CGIAR Genebanks Platform.


CIMMYT Annual Report 2017. Editors-in-chief: Geneviève Renard, G. Michael Listman, Laura Strugnell. Creative Director: Clyde R. Beaver III. Layout and Design: Gerardo Mejia, Clyde R. Beaver III. Infographics/Illustrations: Gerardo Mejia. Production/Printer Liaison: Eliot Sánchez/Marcelo Ortiz. Video Promotion: Silvia Rico, Carlos Alfonso Cortés. Writers/Editors:  Rachel Cramer, Ricardo Curiel, Jennifer Johnson, G. Michael Listman, Julie Mollins, Matthew O’Leary, Geneviéve Renard, Katelyn Roett, Sam Storr. Contributors: Bekele Abeyo, Ayele Badebo, Frédéric Baudron, Carolina Camacho, Alberto Chassaigne, Kristie Drucza, Kate Fehlenberg, Terefe Fitta, Bram Govaerts, Velu Govindan, Sarah Hearne, Huntington Hobbs, Muhammad Imtiaz, M.L. Jat, Scott Justice, Victor Kommerell, Timothy Krupnik, Jelle Van Loon, Víctor López Saavedra, Cosmos Magorokosho, Kevin Pixley, B.M. Prasanna, Michael Quinn, Matthew Reynolds, Johnson Siamachira, Arturo Silva Hinojosa, Sam Storr, Kashif Syed, Ghulam Ullah. Photographers: Alfonso Cortés, Xochiquetzal Fonseca, Apollo Habtamu/ILRI, Peter Lowe, Johnson Siamachira, Sam Storr, CIMMYT Archives. Spark Page production: Sam Storr.

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