In 1976, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) started a research collaboration with the Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Sciences (YASS) in China with the aim of “reducing poverty, increasing food security and protecting the environment.” The past 30 years of partnership have flourished with “CIMMYT germplasm forming the basis of Yunnan’s strengthened maize production and breeding program” as shown in the CIMMYT’s newsletter article “What will Yunnan farmers do when the rain stops?”
By 2011, Dr. Fan Xingming, Director General, Institute of Food Crops, YAAS confirmed, “CIMMYT experts have helped Yunnan in many ways, including training and sharing expertise. I really appreciate this and sincerely hope we can continue cooperating, progressing in maize breeding, and developing more hybrids that will allow farmers to contribute to the food security of people in less developed areas.”
And although the effects of climate change proved to be particularly difficult in both 2010 and 2011 where the expected monsoon seasons failed to provide adequate rainfall in the cultivation-challenged mountainous Yunnan region of China, farmers have sought out drought-resistant maize seeds developed by YASS and CIMMYT.
Drawing on sources from CIMMYT’s maize and wheat seed bank, which conserves 27,000 unique collections of maize seed, Fan and his group have developed 22 hybrids, several of which possess improved performance under drought and multiple disease resistance. Because they produce consistently higher yields and better incomes for Yunnan farmers, the hybrids have been a hit. Today they cover approximately 200,000 hectares—15% of Yunnan’s annual maize area—and have increased farmers’ incomes by approximately USD 200 million between 2000 to 2010.
Combine this with the fact that in November of this year, Chinese researchers visited El-Batan (Mexico) to share their hybrid-wheat breeding expertise and advancements with colleagues in CIMMYT-El Batan. We now see another form of cross-fertilization at work!
Large portions of the above text extracts were taken from CIMMYT’s newsletter article “What will Yunnan farmers do when the rain stops?” – visit the link to view the original article.
Photo credit: CIMMYT