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CIMMYT at 50: scorecard for East and Central Africa Working for food and nutrition security in changing environments - Celebrations held in Kenya

Over 150 stakeholders, dignitaries, partners, funders joined CIMMYT's management and staff in Nairobi, Kenya for a two-day event to mark its 50 years anniversary. This was a time to review lessons learned and achievements of years of collaboration with partners, besides looking forward on what CIMMYT and partners should focus on for stronger food systems in eastern and central Africa in the next 5-15 years.

Day 1: 09 September 2016

Guests had an opportunity to visit and see 'first-hand' the maize and wheat research activities conducted by CIMMYT and its host partner, the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO) at Kiboko, Njoro and Naivasha in Kenya.

KALRO-Kiboko is CIMMYT’s maize breeding hub; it hosts managed drought screening sites, low nitrogen site, the Africa public sector doubled haploid facility, as well as three confined field trial sites for testing transgenic maize and sorghum.
Visitors learnt about the Doubled-Haploid technology, viewed demo plot with elite maize varieties, low-nitrogen and Bt maize trial sites at the Kiboko research station.

KALRO-Njoro is the breeding hub for wheat program and the screening hub for CIMMYT Ug99 stem rust disease. At least 50,000 wheat accessions are screened at the site annually from 20-25 countries. About 65 wheat varieties that are resistant to Ug99 stem rust disease have been released globally.

Guests were briefed about the Ug99 screening activities and viewed resistant wheat varieties in the field.

KALRO-Naivasha hosts the largest MLN screening site in sub-Saharan Africa. Over 60,000 maize accessions have been screened at the site since 2013 for private and public institutions including national agricultural research organizations in sub-Saharan Africa.

Some major activities at the site include artificial inoculation of maize plants with MLN-causing viruses, modern plant diagnostics techniques. Guests were briefed on progress made to identify promising lines and varieties at the site.

Day 2: 10 September 2016

The second day of the celebrations was held at the Windsor hotel in Nairobi graced by high level dignitaries led by Martin Kropff, CIMMYT Director General. Among the guests present at the event were Willy Bett, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Government of Kenya, Eliud Kireger, Director General KALRO, Karen Freeman, Mission Director, U.S. Agency for International Development in Kenya and East Africa, Julie Borlaug, Associate Director for External Relations, Norman E. Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture. The two hosts of the event, Stephen Mugo, Regional Representative for Africa and B.M. Prasanna, Director of the Global Maize Program facilitated the program for the day.

High level dignitaries, stakeholders, partners & funders joined in the celebrations at Windsor hotel.

Where do we go from here?

Without doubt, CIMMYT and partners have had great impact in transforming lives of smallholders in Africa, which was applauded by every guest who presented in the event. The next big agenda was, focus and strategy for the next five to fifteen years to ensure food security and sustainable maize and wheat agricultural food systems for the future.

"The challenge to produce food for Africa in the next 50 years despite climate challenges is enormous. We have to act together to ensure food security is achieved and farmers achieve yield potential." Martin Kropff, Director General, CIMMYT.
"When we speak about Africa's green revolution, it cannot take place without the improved varieties developed by CIMMYT and its partners. As governments in Africa we are seeing a bright future in agriculture through these seeds that will drive the much needed transformation." Willy Bett, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Government of Kenya.
"The nature of the battle against Maize Lethal Necrosis has to include the entire value chain from research to production of seed, to planting and harvesting of this seed, if we are to have impact on poverty and food insecurity in Africa and world." Karen Freeman, Mission Director, U.S. Agency for International Development in Kenya and East Africa.
"It was phenomenal to see the next generation of scientists benefiting from training. We need to invest more in students and our future leaders in Africa. That is something that you as a continent have to do and we as foreign governments will support you." Julie Borlaug, Associate Director for External Relations, Norman E. Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture.
"Many of the regional problems faced by countries are not unique to them. Similarly, potential solutions to these problems create regional impact, neither crops nor their enemies recognize boundaries. I celebrate with CIMMYT and identify with its 50 years' dedicated contribution to agricultural research without borders." Eliud Kireger, Director General, KALRO.
“Partnership with CIMMYT has been beneficial to farmers. From the beginning farmers are looking at self-sustainability, and we are seeing farmers turning from consumers into investors. That’s a very big change we are making in the partnership.” Nicolai Rodeyns, Managing Director, NASECO Seed Company.

Interactive panel discussions delved on challenges and opportunities of strengthening maize and wheat research, sustainable intensification practices, nutrition security and seed systems in Africa, with focus on including gender in these processes.

The panel sessions provided opportunity to interact with guests and provide feedback on CIMMYT's work.

memorable moments

Compiled by Brenda Wawa - CIMMYT Communications