Author Archive

Men’s Roles and Attitudes: Key to Gender Progress

PaulaKantor-mrBy Mike Listman/CIMMYT

EL BATAN, Mexico (March 3, 2015)- Gender research and outreach should engage men more effectively, according to Paula Kantor, CIMMYT gender and development specialist who is leading an ambitious new project to empower and improve the livelihoods of women, men and youth in wheat-based systems of Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Pakistan.

“Farming takes place in socially complex environments, involving individual women and men who are embedded in households, local culture and communities, and value chains — all of which are colored by expectations of women’s and men’s appropriate behaviors,” said Kantor, who gave a brownbag presentation on the project to an audience of more than 100 scientists and other staff and visitors at El Batán on 20 February. “We tend to focus on women in our work and can inadvertently end up alienating men, when they could be supporters if we explained what we’re doing and that, in the end, the aim is for everyone to progress and benefit.”

Funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the new project will include 14 village case studies across the three countries. It is part of a global initiative involving 13 CGIAR research programs (CRPs), including MAIZE and WHEAT. Participants in the global project will carry out 140 case studies in 29 countries; WHEAT and MAIZE together will conduct 70 studies in 13 countries. Kantor and Lone Badstue, CIMMYT’s strategic leader for gender research, are members of the Executive Committee coordinating the global initiative, along with Gordon Prain of CIP-led Roots, Tubers and Bananas Program, and Amare Tegbaru of the IITA-led Program on Integrated Systems for the Humid Tropics, with expert advisement from specialist Patti Petesch, who contributed to World Bank studies such as “On Norms and Agency” and “Voices of the Poor.

“The cross-CRP gender research initiative is of unprecedented scope,” said Kantor. “For WHEAT, CIMMYT, and partners, understanding more clearly how gendered expectations affect agricultural innovation outcomes and opportunities can give all of our research more ‘ooomph’, helping social and biophysical scientists to work together better to design and conduct socially and technically robust agricultural R4D, and in the end achieve greater adoption and impact.”

Martin Kropff of Wageningen UR appointed Director General of CIMMYT

MKropff-lr-jpg-croppedEL BATAN, Mexico (February 26, 2015)- The Board of Trustees of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), is pleased to announce that Prof. Dr. Martin Kropff has accepted an appointment as the new Director General of CIMMYT, starting 1 June 2015. He follows Dr. Thomas Lumpkin, Director General since 2008, who has significantly expanded CIMMYT’s partnerships and funding, helping the center to be a leading and hugely respected institution in the CGIAR system. Read more about Kropff, including his background and thoughts on CIMMYT’s role and directions. 

Important Note: WHEAT Management and Governance Changes

EL BATAN, Mexico (January 9, 2015)- Guided by 2014 recommendations of the CGIAR Independent Evaluation Arrangement, WHEAT has established a new, Independent Steering Committee, appointed a WHEAT Director and will help CIMMYT and ICARDA to set up a single, global wheat research and development program for both centers. Click here to read the full announcement about these exciting changes in WHEAT governance and management.

Honoring the Life and Legacy of Wilfred Mwangi, CIMMYT Agricultural Economist

By Mike Listman/ CIMMYT

EL BATAN, Mexico (December 15, 2014)- The CIMMYT coW Mwangi-Croppedmmunity celebrates the illustrious life and mourns the passing on 11 December of Wilfred M. Mwangi, distinguished Kenyan scholar, statesman and researcher who dedicated his career to improving the food security and livelihoods of farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. 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.

In the latter capacity and with the support and coordination of WHEAT, Mwangi’s effective work in policy circles was critical to achieving the 2013 endorsement by African Union (AU) agriculture ministers of wheat as a strategic crop for Africa.

“He served CIMMYT with distinction for decades and was enormously important in promoting smallholder maize research in Africa,” said Derek Byerlee, retired World Bank policy researcher who led CIMMYT’s socioeconomics team in the late 1980s-early 90s and recruited Mwangi. “Even more, he was a great human being who was highly-respected throughout the region. Africa and the world are poorer for his loss.”

(Click here to read more about Wilfred Mwangi’s work to benefit farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa.)

ASARECA Boosting Wheat Productivity and Value Chains in Burundi and Rwanda

By Mike Listman/CIMMYT

KIGALI, Rwanda (November 12, 2014)- At the launch meeting held in Kigali, Rwanda, during 27-29 October, Ivan Rwomushana, ASARECA Manager for Staple Crops.

IvanRwomushana-CroppedWith funding from the Multi Donor Trust of the World Bank and WHEAT, ASARECA has launched a project to assess opportunities and constraints in wheat value chains and raise smallholder wheat farmers’ productivity by at least 20% in selected communities of Rwanda and as much as 100% among participating households in Burundi.

“Both countries have favorable agro-ecologies with high potential for wheat production,” said Ivan Rwomushana, ASARECA Manager for Staple Crops, “but the crop is grown mainly by smallholders under rain-fed systems, so domestic production covers less than 25% of consumption and the countries import the rest at a considerable cost.”

Urbanization, a rising middle class and new lifestyles are driving up wheat demand in Sub-Saharan Africa. But regional supplies fall short, so wheat-consuming countries must use foreign reserves to import at least US $12 billion-worth of grain each year. In Rwanda alone, the annual cost of wheat imports has spiraled from US $2.3 million to US $33 million, over 2006-11.

“In Burundi, for example, farmers harvest only 0.8 tons of grain per hectare, on average,” said Gaspard Nihorimbere, wheat breeder at the Institut des Sciences Agronomiques du Burundi (ISABU). “Use of improved seeds with proper agronomic practices and fertilizer could raise that to 1.6 tons per hectare.”

The project is called “Enhancing Wheat Productivity and Value Chains in Burundi and Rwanda.” The work links with regionwide efforts of ASARECA to develop smallholder wheat production systems and value chains and WHEAT’s ongoing “Wheat for Africa” initiative, and will marshal contributions from the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), the University of Rwanda (UR)/College of Agriculture, Animal Sciences and Veterinary Medicine (CAVM), ISABU, the Confédération des Associations des Producteurs Agricoles pour le Développement (CAPAD) and CIMMYT. The project will also leverage ongoing work of the Wheat Regional Centre of Excellence of the Eastern Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (EAAPP).

WHEAT Partner Priority Survey

WHEAT Partner Survey Cover Picture

Click on image to download report.

By Katie Lutz/CIMMYT

EL BATAN, Mexico (October 14, 2014)- To WHEAT, partnerships are paramount. We aim to involve partners at all levels in decision making and steering, and your feedback matters. The WHEAT Partner Priority Survey was sent to more than 200 organizations — national agricultural research institutes, universities, private companies, NGOs and international research organizations — in September 2012. The 92 respondents (44 percent of those surveyed) provided information on institutional priorities, engagement and activities in Strategic Initiatives (SIs), as well as priorities for investment in international agricultural R4D and desired outcomes from SIs.

So, what do 92 WHEAT partners want from international agricultural research?

  • Partners across most regions and institutions prioritized SI 4 (better wheat varieties) and SI 5 (resistance/tolerance to diseases and pests) for institutional and IAR4D investment.
  • Continued investment in research to combat wheat stem rust disease (under SI 5) is a major priority in all regions.
  • Partners expressed a collective desire for enhanced access to training, information, decision-making tools and breeding material.
  • Regarding “WHEAT measures of success,” respondents placed the greatest importance on meeting growing food demands (food security) and expanding the capacity of agricultural research through greater engagement with all stakeholders.

The results highlight opportunities to strengthen and expand the scope of WHEAT, as it transitions through the 2014-2016 extension phase and from SIs to Flagship Projects.

“The survey has shown us how important it is for a global research program such as WHEAT to be aware of partners’ distinct regional priorities and preferences,” said Matthew Audley, visiting Ph.D. student from Rothamsted Research and lead author of the survey report. “We’ll use these results for discussions with partners about content for the Phase II proposal of WHEAT.”

Thanks to all those who responded for your valuable input!

New Integrated Breeding Platform Launched

EL BATAN, Mexico (October 8,2014)- The Integrated Breeding Platform (IBP) providesIBP-Post-image tools and services in a user-friendly and integrated package for the full range of breeding operations, from straightforward phenotyping to complex genomic selection. The IBP website offers public access to products such as diagnostic markers and germplasm, training resources, peer communities and a large provider network. The core product, the Breeding Management System (BMS), offers a greater range of tools than other commercial products and comes with appropriate training and timely support services. The system and complementary services are delivered by IBP regional hubs to ensure adoption, customization and responsiveness to local needs.

Visit the Integrated Breeding Platform web page to learn more.