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:  https://www.cimmyt.org/en/what-we-do/wheat-research/item/outcome-of-first-international-biological-nitrification-inhibition-workshop

Global Partnership Propels Wheat Productivity in China

By Mike Listman/CIMMYT

BEIJING, China (March 30, 2015)- 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 study by the Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy (CCAP) of the Chinese Academy of Science.

Described in a report published on 30 March 2015 by the CGIAR Research Program on Wheat, the research specifically examined China’s partnership with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the free use of CIMMYT improved wheat lines and other genetic resources during 1982-2011. The conclusions are based on a comprehensive dataset that included planted area, pedigree, and agronomic traits by variety for 17 major wheat-growing provinces in China.

ICARDA Awarded Gregor Mendel Innovation Prize

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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.

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. 

Pakistan Wheat Farmers Call for Quality Seed of the Right Varieties

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A Pakistani farmer carries seed of a new wheat variety for on-farm testing. Photo: Anju Joshi

By Krishna Dev Joshi, Katie Lutz and Mike Listman/CIMMYT

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (February 13, 2015)- Lack of access to seed of improved wheat varieties is holding back harvests of smallholder wheat farmers in remote areas of Punjab, Pakistan, a group of farmers told representatives of seed companies, input dealers and research, extension and development organizations, at a workshop last fall in Chakwal, Punjab, Pakistan.

“Ninety-five percent of farmers in Pothwar, a semiarid region of bare and broken terrain, use farm-saved seed of outdated varieties, invariably with limited use of modern agricultural technologies and inputs, resulting in poor crop establishment and low yields,” said Krishna Dev Joshi, CIMMYT wheat improvement specialist based in Pakistan and who helped organize the workshop. “Their yields average only 0.6 tons per hectare, compared to progressive farmers in irrigated areas who harvest ten times that amount.”

Joshi explained that the same three wheat varieties cover 83 percent of the region and have been used for the past 24 years. “One of these, C591, is a variety that was recommended in 1934 and is still grown on about 14 percent of the region’s nearly 0.6 million hectares of wheat area.”

Web Version of 2013 Annual Report NOW Available

CoverThe CGIAR Research Program on Wheat’s 2013 Annual Report is now available in an online and interactive format. The 2013 report, Wheat: The Vital Grain of Civilization and Food Security, highlights the very active year of the WHEAT CRP. Stories in the annual report focus on partner relationships, diverse programs and the greatest triumphs and challenges seen by WHEAT in 2013.

Wheat: The Vital Grain of Civilization and Good Security can be viewed on any mobile or web device at annualreport2013.wheat.org. A PDF version of the 2013 annual report can also be viewed here.

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.