Mexico– Home of the Green Revolution

P1090051Our Nuffield Global Focus program took us to the Yaqui Valley in the Sonora State of Mexico from March 19 to 23rd. The Yaqui Valley is home to one of the most important agricultural research stations on the globe – CIMMYT (The International Wheat and Maize Improvement Center).  CIMMYT is where the Green Revolution started under the leadership of the late Dr. Norman Borlaug.  It was here that new wheat varieties were developed that helped Mexico, Pakistan and India become self sufficient in wheat production by the mid 1960s and is said to have saved a billion people from starvation.P1090083

Today, CIMMYT runs an international wheat and corn breeding program and shares their genetics freely to any interested breeders from around the world.  They have 450 acres of plots at the Yaqui Valley station and coordinate plots and research at many other stations around the world.

Dr. Norman Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his accomplishments.  I had the honour of shaking his hand in 2005 at the International Wheat Conference in Argentina where he was the keynote speaker.  His speech focussed on the need for farmers to develop and adopt new technology.  The topic of his speech has stayed with me and it is inspiring to see his work carried on today with such enthusiasm.  International collaboration was evident, as we met scientists from Australia, USA, South Africa, Mexico, and France during our short time there.

Our hosts shared some quotes by Dr. Normal E. Borlaug that I found interesting, and still relevant:

“Is Very important that Farmers get Involved To Protect Research From the Vagaries of Political Pressure”

"To produce, you must leave office, go into the field, get your hands dirty and sweat, is the language that they understand the soil and plants"

P1090031In the field, Dr. Ravi Singh showed us some of the historic wheat varieties developed at CIMMYT.  This plot is the variety Sonalika, which was grown on more than 12 million hectares in South Asia.  CIMMYT is home to a gene bank of over 120,000 lines of wheat.  These historic lines are important as we develop new technologies to search the genome and select traits that are desirable in today’s growing conditions.


P1090234While in Mexico, we also met with the primary farm and research organizations in the state of Sonora – AOASS and PIEAES (The Agricultural Research and Experimentation Board of the State of Sonora). These groups are very forward thinking and their goals are aimed at maximizing returns for Mexican farmers in the state of Sonora.  We toured one of their grain elevators, and were able to view the city of Obregon from the top of their silos.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by John Cowan on March 26, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Have enjoyed your blog imnmensley. Have even felt a little envious of your wonderful experience. I look forward to your arrival home so that i can hear some of these stories in person.


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