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

Pakistani farmer (2)

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.

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

Njoro-2014

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).