2nd call for proposals from the International Wheat Yield Partnership

The International Wheat Yield Partnership (IWYP) is initiating its Second Competitive Funding Call by inviting creative, forward-looking proposals that seek to discover resilient and sustainable approaches to substantially increase the genetic yield potential of wheat, as defined by grain yield under the absence of stress, for the benefit of developed and developing countries. It is anticipated that wheat yield potential can be enhanced by:

  • Increasing carbon capture before floweringiwyp
  • Increasing biomass
  • Optimizing harvest index
  • Enhancing photosynthetic pathways
  • Specific changes in plant architecture
  • Modifying phenology, e.g., flowering time
  • Hybrid wheat system development
  • Root structure and growth
  • Faster / alternative breeding methods
  • Modeling to define best traits per environment

The topics above are given as an illustrative list for areas of research that are being sought and we will consider other research topics that pertain to genetic yield potential. Proposals that concentrate mainly on plant stresses or agronomic systems will be considered out of scope. The proposed research should be based on Triticeae germplasm or lead to discoveries directly relevant to wheat.

With this initiative IWYP is seeking breakthroughs in genetic yield potential beyond what is expected to occur in ongoing breeding programs. Therefore, new or different approaches and/or novel techniques are envisaged. Research outputs should be clearly defined in terms of specifically timed milestones and quantifiable deliverables. Proposals where outputs are only descriptions of plant processes will be considered out of scope.

The selection process will be two-stage whereby applicants must first submit a Pre-Proposal due by 3 March 2017. Full details and application instructions can be found at http://iwyp.org/ beginning 16 December 2016. Proposals that do not closely adhere to the instructions, formats and timelines will not be considered. Proposals must be academic led and can be from single institutions, although national and especially international consortia are strongly encouraged. Applications involving private industry collaborators are also strongly encouraged. Funding requests can range from 1 to 3 years but should not exceed a maximum cash request of US$2 Million over 3 years. Full-Proposals will be invited from selected Pre-Proposals. Proposals will be judged by their scientific excellence, breakthrough potential and relevance to markedly improving the genetic yield potential of wheat.

The successful proposals will be integrated into the IWYP Science Program led by the Program Director in liaison with a Scientific Advisory Committee. Discoveries made in the Science Program will be further characterized, validated and developed in advanced wheat lines for rapid deployment in breeding programs by the IWYP Hub at CIMMYT.

The International Wheat Yield Partnership (IWYP) is a major public/private initiative being supported by research funders, international agencies, national and international research organizations and industry partners. Its goal is to increase wheat yields globally in both developed and developing countries. IWYP is led by a Program Director, an international Board of funders, scientific experts and members from commercial breeding companies.

Advice for India’s rice-wheat farmers: Put aside the plow and save straw to fight pollution

by Mike Listman / 29 November 2016

Recent media reports show that the 19 million inhabitants of New Delhi are under siege from a noxious haze generated by traffic, industburningcloseries, cooking fires and the burning of over 30 million tons of rice straw on farms in the neighboring states of Haryana and Punjab.

However, farmers who rotate wheat and rice crops in their fields and deploy a sustainable agricultural technique known as “zero tillage” can make a significant contribution to reducing smog in India’s capital, helping urban dwellers breathe more easily.

Since the 1990s, scientists at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) have been working with national partners and advanced research institutes in India to test and promote reduced tillage which allows rice-wheat farmers of South Asia to save money, better steward their soil and water resources, cut greenhouse gas emissions and stop the burning of crop residues.

The key innovation involves sowing wheat seed directly into untilled soil and rice residues in a single tractor pass, a method known as zero tillage. Originally deemed foolish by many farmers and researchers, the practice or its adaptations slowly caught on and by 2008 were being used to sow wheat by farmers on some 1.8 million hectares in India.


The Turbo Happy Seeder allows farmers to sow a rotation crop directly into the residues of a previous crop—in this case, wheat seed into rice straw—without plowing, a practice that raises yields, saves costs and promotes healthier soil and cleaner air.

Click here to read more about how scientists and policymakers are promoting the technique as a key alternative for residue burning and to help clear Delhi’s deadly seasonal smog.



Announcement: 2017 CIMMYT basic wheat improvement course

A unique professional development opportunity for early-career wheat scientists in the public and private sectors, this course aims to impart the skills and knowledge needed to design and run a sustainable breeding program, familiarize participants with improved wheat germplasm and new wheat improvement technology, improve awareness of support disciplines (pathology, physiology, quality, statistics, biotechnology, GIS, and social sciences), and foster positive attitudinal changes (confidence, motivation, and appreciation of team work and interdisciplinary research).

To register or read more about the course, click here.

2015 ICARDA annual report: Towards Dynamic Drylands

ICARDA’s work in the severely food-and water-stressed Middle Eastern and North African countries puts it in a strong position to contribute to stability in the region, addressing the root causes of the migration—food insecurity, unemployment, drought and environmental degradation.

Center outcoicarda-2015-cover-mrmes in 2015 add to the body of evidence that demonstrates a clear potential and path towards productive and climate-resilient livelihoods for smallholders and livestock producers – a road towards ‘Dynamic Drylands’ – the theme of ICARDA’s 2015 Annual Report, which we proudly present.

To read the report on line or download a pdf copy, click here.

Advances toward breaking the wheat yield barrier: IWYP 2015-16 annual report

In addition to incisive background on IWYP, including its model, mission and goals, this report covers first-year activities and advances from thcover-iwyp-ar-2015-16e partnership’s Science Program and how research outputs are uses to generate added value.

Dr. Richard Flavell FRS, CBE, who chairs the Science Impact and Executive Board of IWYP, states: “Being a part of such a worthy endeavor as IWYP that seeks to impact global food and nutritional security by seeking solutions with cutting-edge science is exhilarating. This is a unique opportunity to employ and validate a new way of working together internationally to achieve common goals that address critical needs. We are confident that we have laid the necessary groundwork and will remain focused and committed to realize our collective success.”

To view or download a copy of the IWYP Annual Report follow the link: http://iwyp.org/annual-report/

Iran and CIMMYT join forces to boost wheat farming productivity

Heat- and drought-tolerant varieties and improved practices will raise farmers’ incomes, offer more affordable food and reduce costly imports

Wheat farm in Moghan, Caspian Region, northern Iran. Photo: J.Kamali/CIMMYT

Wheat farm in Moghan, Caspian Region, northern Iran. Photo: J.Kamali/CIMMYT


The government of Iran signed a momentous 6-year agreement with The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center(CIMMYT) for joint work to raise the productivity of the country’s wheat farms on some 2.5 million hectares—roughly 13 percent of the nation’s cultivated area.

Researchers of Iran and CIMMYT will develop and share improved varieties, draw on wild grasses of Iran as sources of resilience in breeding, improve policies and seed production/distribution systems and spread the use of conservation agriculture practices.

“I’m extremely pleased about this agreement with a long-time, valued partner,” said Martin Kropff, director general of CIMMYT. “It bespeaks Iran’s serious focus on providing affordable food and generating income for farmers. It also comes at a time when agri-food systems everywhere face daunting challenges, like more frequent droughts and less available irrigation water.”

To read more about the agreement between CIMMYT and Iran, read the full news release here.


Available Now: The 2015 WHEAT Annual Report

High returns to global wheat research

Building on more than a half-century of proven impacts, the global wheat improvement system led by CGIAR centers continues to be the chief source for wheat farmers in Africa, Asia and Latin America of critical traits such as high yields, disease resistance and enhanced nutrition and quality.

A recently-published study found that CGIAR-derived varieties – nearly all traceable to CIMMYT and ICARDA breeding programs – cover more than 100 million of 220 million hectares worldwide and bring economic benefits of as much as $3.1 billion each year. To achieve impacts in wheat agri-food systems, CIMMYT and ICARDA depend on national partnerships in over 100 countries and critical support from CGIAR Fund Donors and other contributors, whom we sincerely thank on behalf of the world’s wheat farmers and consumers.

A critical juncture

Consumers in particular are benefiting from current low wheat grain prices, thanks in part to the success of WHEAT, but many studies foreshadow a future of rising demand and food price instability that could wreak havoc, particularly among poor consumers.

The unfolding scenario implies a yearly growth in wheat demand of 1.4 percent to 2030, at constant prices. But yield gains in wheat remain below 1 percent per year over the last decade, mainly because the easiest gains in wheat have already been achieved and more dramatic progress will require new approaches.

To ensure the affordable availability of wheat – a food staple that provides around 20 percent of protein and calories consumed worldwide – researchers need to expand field testing for disease resistance and heat and drought tolerance and to significantly raise wheat’s genetic yield potential.

Ethiopia 2015

Photo: Peter Lowe

For their part, during 2015 CIMMYT and ICARDA made excellent progress in merging their wheat programs to ensure partners and farmers’ quick and effective access to high-yielding, climate-resilient breeding lines, productive and resource-conserving cropping practices and knowledge needed to face the future of wheat, the vital grain of civilization and food security.

Hans-Joachim Braun

Director, CGIAR Research Program on Wheat

Read the full version of the 2015 WHEAT Annual Report here.

Assessing the impact of CIMMYT on capacity development in China

A study recently published byChina-Group-Portrait the Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy of the Chinese Academy of Science showed that the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) has provided an increasing number of training opportunities for Chinese scholars in the past four decades. 350 Chinese researchers had taken part in CIMMYT wheat training programs since 1970, of which 15 percent were female during 1980-1990; rising to 35 percent female during 2000-12. Since the 1990s, there was an increasing focus on young scientists.

The study is the first attempt at assessing the impact of CIMMYT’s training programs on Chinese scholars. The significant hidden value of CIMMYT’s training programs for Chinese trainees’ academic performance revealed by this study should have important implications for major international donors who are interested in improving NARS research capacity. The study stated that the trainees performed better after training. On average, trainees’ annual total numbers of publications, patents, awards and wheat varieties were higher in the post-training period. In addition, the trainees’ ability to obtain research projects and funding was higher than the average level of all scientists at their institutions.China training

According to the study, “the majority of trainees highly appreciated the effect CIMMYT training had on their careers. Most of them claimed that the training helped them obtain new scientific knowledge and technology, improve their research and work experiences, access more germplasm resources and develop a better research network. Moreover, most of the respondents also believe that the training programs have largely contributed to wheat technological changes in China. They suggest that CIMMYT can play a more important role by expanding its training programs and conducting more collaborative work in China in the future.”

The training impacts report is the second of two studies by CCAP-CAS on the achievements of the China-CIMMYT wheat research partnership. The first study showed that 10.7 million tons of grain — worth US $3.4 billion — were added to China’s wheat output, as well as genetic diversity that significantly enhanced key traits in China’s wheat varieties, through three decades of shared research.

To view or download a pdf of the report on training impacts, click here.


Annual meeting in Ciudad Obregón fosters international research partnerships

Katie Lutz
Each year, hundreds of wheat researchers from across the globe gather in Ciudad Obregón, Mexico to participate in the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center’s (CIMMYT) Global Wheat Program (GWP) Visitor’s Week at the Campo Experimental Norman E. Borlaug (CENEB.) This year 220 guests from 31 nations attended visitor’s week during 14-18 March, ending just one week before what would have been 1970 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former CIMMYT wheat breeder, Norman E. Borlaug’s, 102nd birthday.

The events held in Obregón help to foster a relationship between wheat researchers and facilitate partnerships worldwide. Participants are invited to attend the GWP Field Day at CENEB during the peak of the Obregón wheat growing season to learn more about CIMMYT programs and hear updates on the latest research.

In addition to Field Day this year, numerous meetings were held with the collective goal to contributing to the improvement of wheat research across the globe. Meetings held during visitor’s week included discussions based on exploring priority research areas in wheat.

A brainstorming session discussing future collaborations between the UK and CIMMYT, included dialogue on breeding for tolerance to high ambient temperatures, durable disease resistance, input use efficiency in nitrogen and quality and nutrition. Future collaborations between CIMMYT- Australia were also explored with the Grains Research and Development Corporation and the CIMMYT-Australia-ICARDA Germplasm Exchange group (CAIGE).  2Blades, a US-based organization supporting the development of durable disease resistances in crop plants and their deployment in agriculture also joined the conversation expressing the need for the use of safe, sustainable strategies for crop production.

Visitor 8x12

Additionally in exploring international collaborations, the second meeting of the Expert Working Group on Nutrient Use Efficiency in wheat aimed to improve international coordination on NUE (nitrogen and other nutrients) research between Australia, UK, France, Mexico, Italy, Spain and Germany.  During the NUE meeting an executive committee was appointed, Malcolm Hawksford, Head of Plant Biology and Crop Science at Rothamsted as Chair and Jacques Le Gouis, of INRA as Vice Chair.

Amidst the meetings and international collaborations, the International Wheat Yield Partnership held their first official program conference. During the IWYP conference, program director Jeff Gwyn, discussed outcomes and objectives for the next 20 years.

With the large audience of global wheat researchers, The Borlaug Global Rust Initiative used this platform to launch their new project, Delivering Genetic Gain in Wheat, after announcements of the $24 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation were made. DGGW will mitigate serious threats to wheat brought about by climate change and develop and deploy new strains of wheat that are heat tolerant as well as resistant to wheat rusts and other diseases.

With the hope of increasing data and information sharing, the International Wheat Improvement Network (IWIN) awarded Mehmet Nazım Dincer of Turkey the IWIN Cooperator Award for his contribution of data to the international nurseries. Dincer was selected from a lottery of researchers who provided data to IWIN for the international nurseries in the last year. Dincer was congratulated for his collaborative efforts with a one week paid travel to Obregón for GWP Visitor’s Week and honored with an award during the festivities. The next winner will be selected in a lottery in November among co-operators who had returned 2016 International Nursery data. As Hans Braun stated, he is not aware of other lotteries with so few participants in which the jackpot is a trip to Obregón. So IWIN co-operators, return the data and win.

This week is not only an important time for international collaborations and brainstorming, but also for capacity development and training early career scientists. Coinciding with visitor’s week is the GWP Basic Wheat Improvement Course, a three month training course that targets young and mid-career scientists, focusing on applied breeding techniques in the field. In addition to attending Visitor’s Week events, trainees were offered special courses with guest lecturers. Joining the BWIC at this time were winners of the Women in Triticum 2016 Award. WIT winners and female trainees joined women across CIMMYT in a “Women in Agriculture” discussion led by Jeannie Borlaug, daughter of Norman Borlaug, to discuss difficulties and successes as women in science and agriculture.



CIMMYT scientist R.K. Malik wins Crawford Fund’s Derek Tribe Award for improving livelihoods of farmers in India

Photo RK Malik 2

Ram Kanwar Malik, a senior agronomist in the Sustainable Intensification Program at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) based in Bihar, India, is the winner of the 2015 Derek Tribe Award for his outstanding contributions to making a food secure world by improving and sustaining the productivity of the rice-wheat system of the northwestern and eastern Indo-Gangetic Plains.

The Derek Tribe Award, given by the Australia-based Crawford Fund, is made biennially to a citizen of a developing country in recognition of their distinguished contributions to the application of research in agriculture in a developing country.

The prestigious award recognizes Malik’s more than 30 years of work in agricultural research and development dedicated to improving the livelihoods of millions of small-scale and marginal farmers in India. Malik was a pioneer promoter of zero tillage to sow wheat, in rice-wheat cropping zones of northern India—initially to control infestations of the weed, Phalaris minor. The approach, which involves seeding wheat directly into residues of the preceding rice crop, is used on 2 million hectares throughout South Asia’s rice-wheat cropping belt and in a recent report was shown to increase the annual incomes of farmers in Bihar, India, by an average of 6 percent.

Malik’s collaborative work with national and international partners and farmer participatory approaches have also fostered the adoption of climate-resilient technologies such as precision land leveling and direct-seeded rice, as well as policy changes in support of these and other resource-conserving practices.

Malik currently serves as the country coordinator for India for the CIMMYT-led sustainable intensification project, Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA). He continues to raise productivity and smallholders’ incomes in the eastern states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha, areas where rural poverty, food insecurity and yield gaps of cereal staples are among the most severe in South Asia.

Highlighting his life-long passion for understanding the needs of farmers and for ensuring farmers’ participation in research, Malik said, “For developing countries like India where farmers are small and marginalized and investment in research is low, the development of new technologies and the process of delivery are inseparable. In fact, a top-down approach could put up barriers to the adoption of new technologies. Listening to farmers and tailoring technologies to serve their needs thus become paramount.”

Read the full announcement from The Crawford Fund here.

Read the full announcement from CIMMYT here.