Rising Temperatures, Falling Wheat Yields

Ranak Martin/CIMMYT

Photo: Ranak Martin/CIMMYT

By Katie Lutz/CIMMYT 

EL BATAN, Mexico (January 22, 2016)- Global temperatures are projected to increase 2 to 4 degrees C by the end of the century, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Rising temperatures reduce global wheat production,” a recent study published in the leading science journal, Nature Climate Change, discusses the work of 50 scientists from 15 countries stating that this increase in temperature will be a huge threat to wheat yields. Through use of 30 crop models and data from field experiments, these scientists found that rising temperatures are already reducing global wheat production.

Their main finding was that, for every 1 degree C increase in growing season mean temperatures, wheat production decreases by six percent — equivalent to a worldwide loss of 42 million tons of grain.

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.)

WHEAT Takes on Heat and Drought at HeDWIC

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Photo: J.Mollins/CIMMYT

By Katie Lutz/CIMMYT

EL BATAN, Mexico (December 10, 2014)- Have you been experiencing extreme heat? Everlasting droughts? And still don’t think climate change is affecting agriculture, the earth or you during this lifetime?

WHEAT has noticed and we see that  climate change is currently contributing to warmer temperatures and producing erratic rainfall causing intense heat and immense droughts worldwide.  Heat and drought have become the main causes of wheat and plant yield loss globally, in both developing and developed countries. Scientists predict this issue will only get worse in the next few years and will largely contribute to world hunger, unless immediate action is taken.

A team of more than 100 scientists met 1-4 December 2014 to discuss a worldwide plan to resolve the yield loss problems being caused by heat and drought at the Heat and Drought Wheat Improvement Consortium(HeDWIC.) Funded by WHEAT, HeDWIC will explore and address issues in food security challenges as part of a 15- to 20-year global partnership.

“We’ve laid the foundations for a successful research venture that will help farmers and many of the world’s most marginalized people living in some of the most difficult environmental conditions. From here, we’ll produce a comprehensive road map,” said Hans Braun, director of CIMMYT’s Global Wheat Program on HeDWIC.

You can read a full recap of HeDWIC on the CIMMYT website.

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).

New Study Will Focus on Gender Norms and Wheat-based Livelihoods in Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Pakistan

WheatGenderWebsitePhoto

By Katie Lutz/CIMMYT

EL BATAN, Mexico (November 12, 2014)- In a newly-funded project, WHEAT will explore how the differing roles and rights of women, men and youth influence wheat research and development impacts in three nations whose inhabitants depend heavily on the crop for protein, carbohydrates and livelihoods.

Funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the project “Understanding gender in wheat-based livelihoods for enhanced WHEAT research for development (R4D) impact in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Ethiopia” will seek evidence to promote an appreciation of gender integration and social inclusion, as an opportunity to enhance impact. There is ample literature on gender and agriculture, but less on studies that explore gender and social equity issues relating to wheat-based livelihoods, according to Lone Badstue, CIMMYT’s strategic leader for gender research and mainstreaming

WHEAT Celebrates the International Day of Rural Women

J.Cumes/CIMMYT

Photo: J.Cumes/CIMMYT

By Katie Lutz/CIMMYT

EL BATAN, Mexico (October 15, 2014)- Each year, 16 October is recognized worldwide as the International Day of Rural Women. The United Nations (UN) states that the role and contribution of rural women is crucial in enhancing agriculture and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.

According to the World Bank’s 2012 World Development Report, women comprise 43 percent of the agricultural workforce worldwide. Gender affects wheat production in many low- and middle-income countries, where women in villages lack legal rights or face social or cultural exclusion from access to land, information, credit or new technologies.

“Research has shown that women spend more of their resources on children than do men,” said Lone Badstue, strategic leader for gender research and mainstreaming in CIMMYT’s socioeconomic program. “Improving women’s access to resources can directly benefit children’s wellbeing and development. In fact, a 2011 report from FAO states that providing women farmers with equitable access to resources and thus bringing their yields up to the levels achieved by men could remove as many as 150 million people from the ranks of the undernourished.”

Gender and social equity are key development issues in South Asia, a region that is home to half the world’s poor and where wheat is a major crop, but where there has been little research on the role of gender in wheat-based cropping systems. “We lack evidence about which groups are poor and excluded and about the nature of their production, consumption and marketing issues,” said Tahseen Jafry, a professor at Glasgow Caledonian University, UK, who specializes in gender and justice issues associated with climate change and agriculture. “But such groups clearly need better ways to access, adapt, adopt and apply new knowledge about technologies, institutions, policies and markets, so they can fully benefit from new developments.”

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.