CIMMYT 2014 Turning research into impact

We live in an age of higher and fluctuating food prices. Relatively local disturbances, like droughts or crop disease outbreaks, cause inordinate price spikes and worsen food security for the disadvantaged worldwide.

In 2014, CIMMYT redoubled and refined work to develop and share two of its key outputs: more productive and resilient maize and wheat varieties and efficient, environmentally-friendly farming practices.

Global partnership propels wheat productivity in China

Benefits of three decades of international collaboration in wheat research have added as much as 10.7 million tons of grain – worth US $3.4 billion – to China’s national wheat output, according to a 2014 study led by the director of the Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy (CCAP) of the Chinese Academy of Science.

The journey of a seed

The lifeblood of CIMMYT’s research and partnerships, millions of seeds are on the move. As they arrive, depart, and are shared, the seeds also undergo rigorous health testing, are grown out at research stations, and are stored in frigid germplasm bank vaults.

Ancient landraces please modern palates and profit smallholder farmers

Mexican smallholder farmers are profiting from native maize dishes served in exclusive Mexican and U.S. restaurants, as endangered maize landraces are being preserved and improved.

Precision land leveling to save water in Asia

Farmers on over 1.5 million hectares in South Asia’s vast rice-wheat cropping zones are using a high-tech approach to level their farmland, allowing them to save 15-30 percent irrigation water and benefit from up to 6 percent higher yields for rice, wheat and other crops, over farmers who work traditionally-plowed fields.

Making maize climate-ready

The world is getting hotter and instances of extreme weather events are on the rise. The planet’s changing climate is impacting farmers through heat, drought, floods, storms, diseases, emerging pests, shifting growing seasons, and volatile rain patterns. From Africa to Asia, CIMMYT is working with partners to develop maize lines with tolerance to drought, heat-stress and waterlogging.

Maize Lethal Necrosis

The rapid emergence of maize lethal necrosis in eastern Africa was met by an equally impressive effort to offer farmers varieties capable of surviving MLN.

Reshaping wheat for yield and climate change

In the battle to raise wheat production by more than 60 percent over the next 35 years and satisfy rising global demand, scientists believe they have begun unravelling the genetic mysteries to deliver a more productive and resilient wheat plant.

Tackling the gender gap in research

CIMMYT increased investments in gender research to ensure that projects engage men and women more effectively.

Making the most of appropriate machinery

Across diverse farm settings in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and South Asia, experts are sharing knowledge and experiences to re-design and adapt machinery for women and men.

Honoring the life and legacy of Wilfred Mwangi, CIMMYT agricultural economist

Wilfred M. Mwangi, 1947-2014

December 2014 marked the passing of Wilfred M. Mwangi, distinguished Kenyan scholar, statesman, and researcher who dedicated his career to improving farmers’ food security and livelihoods. In 27 years at CIMMYT, Mwangi made significant contributions both as a principal scientist and distinguished economist with authorship on nearly 200 publications, as well as country and regional liaison officer, associate director of the global maize program, leader of the Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa (DTMA) project and CIMMYT regional representative for Africa.

Mwangi also mentored hundreds of young, national program scientists from Africa and elsewhere, according to Derek Byerlee, retired World Bank policy researcher who led CIMMYT’s socioeconomics team in the late 1980s-early 90s and recruited Mwangi. “He served CIMMYT with distinction for decades and was enormously important in promoting smallholder maize research in Africa,” Byerlee said. “Even more, he was a great human being who was highly-respected throughout the region.”

Born in 1947, Mwangi grew up in Nakuru County, Kenya. He completed a B.A. in Economics and Rural Economy at Makerere University, Uganda, in 1972 and M.A. and Ph.D. studies in Agricultural and Development Economics at Michigan State University (MSU) in 1975 and 1978. Returning to Kenya, Mwangi eventually became a Professor and Chair of the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Nairobi. He joined CIMMYT in 1987.

His career included stints as Deputy Permanent Secretary and Director of Agriculture and Livestock Production in Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and as a World Bank economist. As Deputy Permanent Secretary, he served as part of a “dream team” of eminent figures convened in 1999 by Richard Leakey, then head of the Kenya Wildlife Service, at the behest of President Daniel arap Moi, to help reform government administration.

Knowledgeable in politics and with prominent policy contacts, Mwangi provided untiring and invaluable support for CIMMYT’s Africa-based partnerships and work to develop and promote better maize and wheat crop varieties and farming systems, particularly to benefit the region’s hundreds of millions of smallholder farmers.

With typical modesty and humor, Mwangi once observed that: “Despite all my academic expertise and impressive career, my mother still tells me how to farm.”

CIMMYT staff in 2014

Headquartered in Mexico, CIMMYT has 1,238 staff members, 214 of whom are internationally-recruited scientists and other experts. Of the latter, slightly more than half work outside of Mexico at 19 Center offices in 14 major maize- and wheat-producing countries of the developing world, assisted by 398 support staff. The 728 CIMMYT staff members in Mexico are distributed among the Center’s main office and 4 other principal research stations.
Editors-in-chief Geneviève Renard, Michael Listman Creative Director/design Clyde R. Beaver III Slate Design Lead Sam Storr Graphics Eliot Sanchez, Marcelo Ortiz, Bosen Zhou Principal writing/editing Michael Listman, Geneviève Renard, Julie Mollins, Sam Storr, Jennifer Johnson, Katherine Lutz, Katelyn Roett, Ashwamegh Banerjee. Contributors Tripti Agarwal, Lone Badstue, Frédéric Baudron, José Juan Caballero, Ma. Concepion Castro, Vijay Chaikam, Uran Chung, Ricardo Curiel, Anuradha Dhar, K.C. Dilli, Nirmal Govindan, Muhammad Imtiaz, Moti Jaleta, M.L. Jat, Arun Joshi, Promil Kapoor, Petr Kosina, Mauricio Malpica Aranda, Esther Mendoza Ramos, Hae Koo, Surabhi Mittal, Alexey Morgounov, Wandera Ojanji, Natalia Palacios, Roberto Javier Peña, Eloise Phipps, S.P. Poonia, Yahya Rauf, Matthew Reynolds, Rajiv Sharma, Miriam Shindler, Florence Sipalla, Sam Storr, Adefris Teklewold, Kindie Tesfaye, Brenda Wawa, Martha Willcox, Wren Media , Patrick Yadav, P.H. Zaidi, Bosen Zhou. Photographers Cover: CIMMYT Archives. Inside this issue: Ashwamegh Banerjee, Frédéric Baudron, Clyde Beaver, Iván Vázquez Cruz, Xochiquetzal Fonseca, ML Jat, Petr Kosina, Peter Lowe, Ranak Martin, Allen McHugh, Garry Rosewarne, Alfredo Saénz, Sam Storr, Anne Wangalachi, Patrick Wall, Martha Willcox and CIMMYT archives.

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