Message from the Chair of the Board of Trustees

Nicole Birrell
Nicole Birrell

The year 2020 has been unprecedented, in terms of both the challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic and the initiation of a far-reaching transformation of CGIAR into a more aligned and stronger organization.

This was the fourth year in the execution of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) Strategic Plan 2017-22. Notwithstanding some pandemic-induced reduction in research activities, we witnessed the continued delivery of its research and partnerships outcomes for the benefit of millions of the poorest smallholder farmers. The wide-ranging adoption of CIMMYT varieties in farmers’ fields and continued progress in fighting pests and diseases by exploiting the rich diversity of CIMMYT’s genebanks are particular highlights. More generally, CIMMYT continues to pivot further towards a systems-based approach to addressing the pressing challenges of enhancing the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in a climate change crisis.

The pandemic required a significant risk management response which was successfully implemented and continues to date, limiting as much as possible adverse impacts on both Center operations and the health and wellbeing of its staff. The Board acknowledges and applauds the tremendous efforts of staff at all levels in these difficult times.

CIMMYT was able to maintain its funding pipeline and achieved a break-even financial result for the year. CIMMYT has concluded the 2020 financial year with a $0.6 million deficit. The financial result, before taking into account actuarial losses as a consequence of declining discount rates globally, was kept at a $0.1 million surplus. Reduced indirect cost recovery was compensated by lower overhead costs, a result of cost-saving measures initiated by management. For 2021, CIMMYT is well-positioned — with the available budget, estimated carryover of 2020 funding, and pipeline aligned with the organization’s high-level resource mobilization goal — to maintain at least the same level of funding as in recent years.

In 2020, the One CGIAR transition gathered real momentum. With an ambitious aim to further synergize assets, partnerships, and operations to deliver greater impact, the reformulation of CGIAR will ensure that we can fully and effectively respond to new and emerging global challenges.

As part of this transformation, in January, a Transition Consultation Forum was formed to allow for multi-stakeholder input and advice on the transition, along with thematic Transition Advisory Groups and a Transition Program Management Unit.

CIMMYT was a key participant in the gradual execution of the One CGIAR Recommendations adopted by the CGIAR System Council in November 2019. With full support from the Board, Center leadership was actively involved in this initiative across a range of Communities of Practice and played an important role in the development of key documents. A major milestone in 2020 was the approval in December of the new CGIAR 2030 Research and Innovation Strategy and the CGIAR Performance and Results Management Framework, which constitute a bold and relevant blueprint for impactful research and transformative change.

Also, in 2020, welcome steps toward unified governance were made. The CGIAR System Board was reconstituted in September, at which time the three members of the Executive Management Team (EMT) began their tenure. The EMT will further steer the One CGIAR transition, under the oversight of the CGIAR System Board.

In October 2020, the Board endorsed significant amendments to CIMMYT’s Constitution to enable the Center to participate in the governance aspects of the One CGIAR reform. These changes enabled a reconfiguration of the Center’s Board, with CGIAR System Board members joining the CIMMYT Board and several existing Board members departing. The strong contributions of the latter are much appreciated.

Due to the pandemic, the Board was unable to meet in person. Nevertheless, it was able to follow closely the Center’s progress in meeting the year’s objectives. The Board acknowledges the tremendous efforts and achievements of CIMMYT staff and partners, and looks forward to another successful year.

© 2021 International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center
We would like to thank all funders who supported this research through their contributions to the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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Marcia MacNeil, Rodrigo Ordóñez
Project coordination
Leslie Domínguez, Emma Orchardson
Art directors
Alfonso Cortés, Nancy Valtierra
Layout and design
Nancy Valtierra
Web design
Ricardo López
Graphics and illustrations
Marcelo Ortiz, Eliot Sánchez, Nancy Valtierra
Writers and editors
Nima Chodon, Madeline Dahm, Leslie Domínguez, Alison Doody, Wasim Iftikar, G. Michael Listman, Marcia MacNeil, Steven McCutcheon, Marta Millere, Emma Orchardson
T.S. Amjath Babu, Frederic Baudron, Hans Braun, Shiela Chikulo, Olaf Erenstein, Velu Govindan, M.L. Jat, Timothy Krupnik, Sylvanus Odjo, B.M. Prasanna, Harminder S. Sidhu, Jelle Van Loon
Francisco Alarcón, Alfonso Cortés, Wasim Iftikar, Peter Lowe, Ranak Martin, S. Mojumder/Drik, Matthew O'Leary, Love Kumar Singh/BISA, F. Sipalla, Dhruba Thapa/NARC, Szefei Wong/Dreamstime, CIMMYT Archives
Silvia Rico
Correct citation
CIMMYT. 2021. Resilience. Renewal. Transition. CIMMYT Annual Report 2020. CDMX, Mexico: CIMMYT.
AGROVOC descriptors:
Maize; Wheat; Plant breeding; Genetic resources; Innovation adoption; Plant biotechnology; Seed production; Food security; Sustainability; Research policies; Economic analysis; Cropping systems; Agricultural research; Organization of research; Developing countries. Additional Keywords: CIMMYT. AGRIS category codes: A50 Agricultural Research; A01 Agriculture– General Aspects. Dewey decimal classification: 630

© International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), 2021. All rights reserved. The designations employed in the presentation of materials in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of CIMMYT or its contributory organizations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city, or area, or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. CIMMYT encourages fair use of this material. Proper citation is requested.


Asian Development Bank
Accelerating Genetic Gains in Maize and Wheat
Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research
Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics
Bioactive food components
Borlaug Institute in South Asia
CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security
International Center for Tropical Agriculture
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center
CIMMYT Maize Genetic Resource Lines
Carbon dioxide equivalent
Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia
Crops to End Hunger
Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research
CGIAR Excellence in Breeding Platform
Executive Management Team
European Union
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization
Farm Power and Conservation Agriculture for Sustainable Intensification
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office of the United Kingdom
Fusarium head blight
Innovative Applications in Analytics Award
Indian Council of Agricultural Research
International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas
International Food Policy Research Institute
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
International Institute of Tropical Agriculture
Institut de Recherche pour le Développement
International Rice Research Institute
Integrated Tribal Development Agency
Jiangsu Academy of Agricultural Sciences
Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organization
Key performance indicators
CGIAR Research Program on Maize
Nitrous oxide
Nepal Agricultural Research Council
National Agricultural Research Systems
Odisha Rural Development and Marketing Society
Punjab Agricultural University
Program for Growth and Resilience
Mexico's Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development (Secretaría de Agricultura y Desarrollo Rural)
Sustainable Development Goals
Seeds of Discovery
Stress Tolerant Maize for Africa
Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund
United Nations
United Nations Development Programme
United States Agency for International Development
United Nations World Food Programme
CGIAR Research Program on Wheat
Unless otherwise indicated, all amounts are expressed in U.S. dollars

Sustainable Development Goals

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations (UN) Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity, for people and the planet. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.

The SDGs set the pathway for agricultural, social, and economic development. They address the global challenges we face, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice.

CGIAR transformed its approach to ensure that its work is aligned with the ambitious goals. CIMMYT, through its research-for-development activities, contributes to empower women, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve the health and nutrition of the world's poorest people.

CIMMYT’s work contributes to the following SDGs:


CIMMYT – the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center – is the global leader in publicly-funded maize and wheat research and related farming systems. Headquartered near Mexico City, CIMMYT works with hundreds of partners throughout the developing world to sustainably increase the productivity of maize and wheat cropping systems, thus improving global food security and reducing poverty. CIMMYT is a member of the CGIAR System and leads the CGIAR Research Programs on Maize and Wheat and the Excellence in Breeding Platform. The Center receives support from national governments, foundations, development banks and other public and private agencies.

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