Author Archive

Strengthening Results-based Management in the MAIZE and WHEAT CRPs

By Michelle Guertin/CIMMYT

EL BATAN, Mexico (September 18, 2015)- Recognizing the importance of managing for results and learning from experience, the MAIZE and WHEAT CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) have been taking steps to strengthen results-based management (RBM) within the CRPs. In the last several months, both CRPs held multiple participatory workshops (see details below) to develop theories of change (ToCs) for their diverse research areas. These ToCs map out how and why a given research area will lead to specific results. ToCs are often used as a framework for testing hypotheses, where evidence is collected to validate the pathway of change.

The participatory nature of these workshops allowed the research teams to come together and develop consensus-based and aligned theories of change. This process was important to build buy-in and ownership. It was also recognized that change maps can support the development of research strategies and contribute to strengthening proposal development and results reporting by ensuring alignment and consistency across projects and programs.

Alignment is important not only at the project and program levels. Theories of change were clearly linked to attaining higher and global level results from the new CGIAR Strategy and Results Framework 2016-2030 and the upcoming Sustainable Development Goals. It was important for both CRPs to demonstrate how their programs contribute to global issues of poverty reduction, food security, improved nutrition, promotion of sustainable agriculture, and the achievement of gender equality.

In preparation for phase II of the CGIAR research programs

Reflections of a Wheat Trainee: Zaki Afshar, Afghanistan

Zaki Afshar in the field at CIMMYT Afghanistan after the 2015 Basic Wheat Improvement Course

Zaki Afshar in the field at CIMMYT Afghanistan
Photo Courtesy: Zaki Afshar/ CIMMYT

By Katie Lutz/CIMMYT

CIUDAD OBREGON, Mexico (September 10, 2015)- Zaki Afshar grew up in the small city of Puli Khumri in Northern Afghanistan, visiting his father’s seven-hectare (ha) farm every weekend. Growing up in a farming community where the staple crops are wheat and rice, Afshar saw the impact agriculture could have on a community.

“A big part of why I chose agriculture was because I saw how hard the farmers worked and still suffered,” said Afshar. “I wanted to know how I could help them. Why were they not using the advanced technologies I saw available in other parts of the world?”

According to The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), 60 percent of Afghan citizens rely on agriculture to sustain their livelihoods and families. Wheat is the chief crop in Afghanistan, covering 2.5 million ha and providing about 60 percent of daily calorie intake for an average Afghan.

“We have a very basic agriculture system,” explained Afshar. “You will only see machinery used for plowing and trashing, not for sowing or even harvesting.”

Afshar attended Balkh University in Mazari Sharif, receiving a degree in Agricultural Plant Science. He currently works at the CIMMYT Afghanistan office as a project associate as in the Wheat Improvement Program.

Available Now: The WHEAT Wire!

wheatwire2.2EL BATAN, Mexico ( July 6, 2015)- The WHEAT Wire is a quarterly newsletter designed to keep you informed of important events and outcomes in WHEAT, with a special focus on our national and international research and development partners.

This volume features information regarding the next generation of CRPs, the results of the WHEAT Independent Evaluation and updates from CIMMYT and ICARDA. Read more in latest version of The WHEAT Wire.

 

Durum Wheat Production in Pakistan: Keeping up with Changing Demands

By Krishna Dev Joshi, Mike Listman, Katelyn Roett, Attiq Ur Rehman, Tariq Saleem and Akhter Ali/CIMMYT

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Photo: Attiq Ur Rehman/CIMMYT

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (June 1, 2015)- In response to rapidly-changing food preferences in Pakistan, including a latent unmet demand for pasta products, CIMMYT-Pakistan has been working to develop the country’s durum wheat market and varieties that satisfy the required grain quality attributes, in addition to high yields and disease resistance.

According a 2014 study by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Pakistan is urbanizing at an annual rate of 3 percent—the fastest pace in South Asia. “More Pakistanis are living in cities than ever before,” said Krishna Dev Joshi, CIMMYT wheat improvement specialist. “As a result, demand for durum wheat products like macaroni or spaghetti is rising. But farmers are not growing durum wheat because there is no a clear price advantage or assured markets. At the same time, private investors will not develop new milling facilities or markets without guarantees of durum wheat grain supplies from farmers.”

To help break the impasse, CIMMYT has been testing and evaluating 925 durum wheat lines in Pakistan since 2011, and identified 40 durum wheat lines as having appropriate combinations of high yield, protein, yellowness and sedimentation. The yield stability of lines across locations and years indicates that durum wheat could be grown in environments similar to those of the trial sites, increasing the chances for uptake of this new crop. “One challenge, though,” said Joshi, “is that durum yields were only slightly higher than those of bread wheat, posing a challenge for the uptake by farmers of durum wheat.”

Forty Years of Wheat Training at CIMMYT

By Katie Lutz/CIMMYT

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Photo: Katie Lutz/CIMMYT

EL BATAN, Mexico (May 26, 2015)- “After three months, you will be a part of the CIMMYT family,” said Amor Yahyaoui, Global Wheat Program (GWP) Training Officer, as he addressed the 30 participants in the Basic Wheat Improvement Course (BWIC) on their first day at CIMMYT Headquarters, El Batán.

The 2015 wheat trainees hail from 14 countries, and have varying degrees of experience and different backgrounds. “These scientists come in from all different spectrums, but this course puts them all on the same level, with one objective: to learn,” explained Yahyaoui.

The BWIC is a three-month intensive program at the Campo Experimental Norman E. Borlaug (CENEB) in Ciudad Obregon, Sonora, that targets young and mid-career scientists, focusing on applied breeding techniques in the field.

CSISA Aids Female Farmers in India

Female farmers in India are not only responsible for managing the farm work and household chores, but have increasingly become a part of the sowing, weeding and harvesting of crops. The Cereal Systems for South Asia (CSISA) project is working with female farmers in Bihar to ensure that women are learning and developing new skills and getting information on improved farming technologies and practices.

In 2014, more than 100 female farmers in Muzaffarpur district planted their wheat using zero tillage technology. Watch the video above to learn more about the initiatives implemented by CSISA in India.

WHEAT Independent Evaluation Now Available

Photo: Mike Listman/CIMMYT

Photo: Mike Listman/CIMMYT

By Katie Lutz/CIMMYT

EL BATAN, Mexico (May 7, 2015)- The Final Report of the Evaluation of “WHEAT” led by the CGIAR Independent Evaluation Arrangement (IEA), as well as the response of WHEAT management to the report are now available online.

According to The IEA website, “The IEA of the CGIAR is an independent unit which supports the CGIAR in the pursuit of its objectives defined as: reduction of poverty; improving food security; improving nutrition and health; and the sustainable management of natural resources. In this role, the IEA  manages and supports external evaluations which aim to provide accountability, support to decision making, and lessons for improving quality and effectiveness of agricultural research for development outcomes.”

The evaluation report has two parts: a full evaluation report in Volume 1, including an Executive Summary; and a Volume 2 that contains the Annexes.

Beginning in 2014, the External Review Team carefully reviewed background materials; conducted extensive interviews, surveys and site visits with WHEAT management, researchers and stakeholders; analyzed WHEAT projects, the project portfolio and scientific publications; and reviewed and assessed WHEAT impact narratives and supporting evidence.

The resulting report concluded “…that WHEAT is contributing sufficient value from CGIAR’s research investments to…warrant continuation during the extension-phase (2015-16) and beyond” and presenting 12 specific recommendations for improvements. The WHEAT-Management Committee is responsible for following up on them.

The WHEAT Independent Steering- and Management Committees first responded with fact-checking and initial observations about the recommendations. In a 2nd round, they responded formally to the 12 recommendations, accepting them in full but for one.

Additional information about the WHEAT evaluation process and team can be found here.

Enhancing the Capacities of Female Farmers

Climate Smart Villages- Karnal

Photo: P. Vishawanathan/CCAFS

By Katie Lutz/CIMMYT

NEW DEHLI, India (May 5, 2015)- In India, the belief is that wheat farming is mainly the domain of men.

But women do in fact play an important role in wheat production, according to a recent blog post by agricultural economist Surabhi Mittal and research associate Vinod Hariharan, both of CIMMYT. Entitled Enhancing the Capacity of Farm Women, their post featured on Agriculture Extension in South Asia.

“In India as per the agricultural census, one third of the agricultural cultivators, both farmers and laborers are women,” said Mittal and Hariharan. “Their participation in agriculture is rapidly increasing because of multiple factors but the prime reason is out-migration of male members of the family in search of alternative avenues for income, thus leaving the women of the household to be fully involved in agriculture.”

Mittal and Hariharan’s information is based on ongoing research under the Global Study on Gender Norms, Agency and Innovation in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management project funded by WHEAT and activities in India under a CIMMYT-CCAFS led project. The study discusses women’s roles in agriculture, the role of women in decision making at home and in the farms and why these roles are important for the advancement of agriculture.

Read the full blog post here to discover more about Mittal and Hariharan’s research.

First International Biological Nitrification Inhibition Workshop Held in Japan

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Leymus racemosus (Lam.) Tzvel. Photo: Bogomolov, PL

EL BATAN, Mexico (April 20,2015)- “The International Biological Nitrification Inhibition (BNI) Workshop held at The Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS) on 2 and 3 March, 2015 was attended by 40 researchers representing four CGIAR Centers (CIAT, CIMMYT, ICRISAT and the International Livestock Research Institute [ILRI]) leading four CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs), including the Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), Wheat(WHEAT), the Research Program on Dryland-Cereals, the Research Program on Livestock and FishLivestock and Fish) and several Japanese organizations (national agricultural institutes, and universities.)”

Read the major outcomes of the 2015 workshop here:  http://www.cimmyt.org/en/what-we-do/wheat-research/item/outcome-of-first-international-biological-nitrification-inhibition-workshop

ICARDA Awarded Gregor Mendel Innovation Prize

genebankicarda

Aleppo Genebank Team/ ICARDA

By Katie Lutz/CIMMYT

EL BATAN, Mexico (March 19,2015)- The Gregor Mendel Innovation Prize is awarded each year to an individual or an organization for outstanding contribution in plant breeding. Today, 19 March, The International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) was presented this honor in Berlin. The award was presented to director general, Mahmoud Solh, and  ICARDA’s Genetic Resources Section (GRS) team.

Over the last three years, ICARDA has been faced with the looming situation in Syria. Last year, ICARDA’s headquarters in Aleppo was seized by Syrian rebel groups and ICARDA has had to disperse their staff and leave their headquarters in Syria. A group of researchers have put their own safety concerns aside, because leaving Aleppo would be a dramatic loss for ICARDA and international agricultural research. Among the researchers who stayed behind was ICARDA’s GRS team. The GRS team maintains the ICARDA genebank, which stores the world’s largest collection of barley, faba and lentil beans, along with ancient varieties of durum and bread wheat.