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Texas A&M seeks new partnerships with CIMMYT

August 9, 2008

El Batán hosted four distinguished scientists from Texas A&M University (TAMU) during 5-7 August 2008, here to explore options for new partnerships involving the two institutions. Visiting from TAMU were Edward C.A. Runge, renowned agronomist and Senior Advisor for TAMU’s Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture; David D. Baltensperger, Professor and Head, Soil and Crop Sciences; Amir Ibrahim, Associate Professor, Small Grains Breeding/Genetics; and Piya Abeygunawardena, Associate Director of the Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture and Professor.

As a result of the team’s tour and extensive meetings with center management and staff, Baltensperger sees particular potential for interaction in research on heat and drought stress for wheat, the introgression of genes from tropical maize, conservation agriculture crop management systems, and training for students, to name several areas. “I now feel I can link specific faculty and scientists with CIMMYT counterparts,” he says. Training was an area of interest identified by Runge, who is working to launch a Borlaug International Scholars Program in which he hopes CIMMYT will play a role. “Norm Borlaug had many interns from developing countries, but in the last 15 years funding has ebbed for production agronomy training,” he says. “The idea would be to send people home [after the training] with a relevant knowledge base they can apply directly to benefit their country and region.”

“Trainees were the life of CIMMYT, and I remember seeing more,” remarks Ibrahim, who as a visiting scientist in wheat physiology at the center during 1995-96 worked directly with Sanjaya Rajaram and Matthew Reynolds. “But I feel good enthusiasm here now, and am particularly impressed by the work in association mapping and genetics.”

Abeygunawardena was pleased to find in-house expertise in socioeconomics: “We are interested in the economic analysis of food and fuels—how bioenergy and crop production interact.”