This has indeed been a year of resilience, renewal, and transformation.
We began 2020 with grim news of the COVID-19 pandemic spreading from country to country, wreaking havoc on national economies, causing countless personal tragedies, and putting additional pressure on the livelihoods of the poor and hungry. The global crisis exposed the enormous vulnerability of our food system. If we have learned anything from the crisis, it is the absolute necessity to deliver science for renewed food systems that deliver affordable, sufficient, and healthy diets produced within planetary boundaries.
The dedication and resilience of the CIMMYT community this year allowed us to make important advances toward that vision.
Our decades-long joint work with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) was validated this year in a comprehensive review. Between 1995-2015, nearly 60% of all maize varieties released in 18 African countries were CGIAR-related, with yearly aggregate benefits from using post-1994 CGIAR-related varieties estimated in 2015 at between $660 million and $1.05 billion.
In just one year, through the Accelerating Genetic Gains in Maize and Wheat for Improved Livelihoods (AGG) project, CIMMYT and partners implemented rapid-generation breeding methods to shorten the wheat breeding cycle and developed three fall armyworm-tolerant elite maize hybrids for eastern and southern Africa.
Considered a game-changing partnership for smallholder Mexican farmers, the MasAgro project moved to a new level in 2020, with the support of the Mexican government. Today, more than 300,000 farmers grow maize, wheat and rotation crops with sustainable technologies on more than one million hectares across Mexico. Many collaborate with agri-food companies, providing fair wages to farmers and high-quality, sustainably produced maize and wheat products to customers.
The pandemic has seen many of us renew our working style. While we cannot replace our essential field and lab work, we will keep on meeting partners and colleagues partly online, a change that is certain to reduce our future ecological footprint.
Transformation is also occurring in our global research community. CIMMYT staff have been actively involved in working groups, task forces and communities of practice to support the One CGIAR transition. Personally, it has been an honor to co-lead the group of Directors General, funding partners, and science leaders to develop the foundation for the CGIAR 2030 Research and Innovation Strategy.
I want to close by expressing my deepest gratitude to the staff, partners, and community of CIMMYT who overcame unprecedented challenges this year. Thank you to CIMMYT staff and research partners, especially those working in the field and labs, who went above and beyond their usual activities and work schedules to keep CIMMYT’s core business going. Thank you to our funding partners for believing in our mission. To those juggling care for children and ill family members with the challenges of working remotely. To those managing CIMMYT’s crisis response across the countries where we work. To those who have remained committed — both in their work and in their minds — to CIMMYT’s mission. And I wish to express my sincere condolences for the CIMMYT family members who lost their lives to this dreadful pandemic.
I invite you to read this report and join me in continuing to actively work towards resilience, renewal, and transition in our work and in our agri-food systems, to ensure that they are strong in the face of current and future crises.
© 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.
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.
For more information, visit www.cimmyt.org.