September 28, 2007

3Yesterday, CIMMYT El Batán opened its doors to 200 students from eight universities in Mexico. Students from as far away as 870 km arrived at approximately nine a.m., and were welcomed by Masa Iwanaga. It was the first university open house for El Batán, with the goal of raising student interest in agricultural research and consolidating many visits into one morning.

“Because we only have one cropping cycle, now is the best time for students to see the fields,” says Petr Kosina. He hopes the open house might encourage Mexican students to conduct research in collaboration with the Center. Students are welcome to use our library and web resources, he adds.

Students visited biotechnology2 laboratories, maize and wheat fields and the germplasm bank, where they huddled together for warmth. They learned about the Center’s history and the work of impacts targeting. Many of them took notes and pictures with their cell phones. Questions ranged from the issues facing potatoes, rice and beans to the pros and cons of genetically modified crops.

1José Luis Torres, Senior Scientific, Maize for Highlands, at CIMMYT, spoke passionately about the role of CIMMYT in Africa, pointing out which maize in the field is vital for pregnant women there. Saúl García Vásquez, a student from Universidad Antonio Narro, said he could see the importance of such maize because nutrition is a huge problem. Lizbeth Guzmán, who studies nutrition, found the gene bank particularly interesting. Guzmán said she and her classmates had learned a lot in one morning.