The Quick Guide to the “New” CIMMYT

May 14, 2012
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CIMMYT has developed a strategy for building on its core strengths to address the challenges of international agricultural research in the years to come: the need to bring about a real improvement in the livelihoods of the poor; the emerging biophysical, socioeconomic, and political constraints to agriculture in developing countries; the growing range of partners involved in research, extension, and development; and the changing financial landscape for public-sector research.The new strategy requires CIMMYT to change in important ways. The prospect of a “new CIMMYT” has generated much interest but also many questions, which this fact sheet attempts to answer.

1. Foundations of the new CIMMYT

CIMMYT’s recognized strength in maize and wheat improvement for developing countries, its experience in research on maize and wheat systems, and its broad network of partners, ranging from farmers to government ministers, are the foundations of the new CIMMYT. CIMMYT firmly believes that seed with characteristics valued by farmers—for example, drought tolerance or disease resistance—provides a safety net for poor farm households, enabling them to survive bad years, profit from good ones, and pursue more diverse livelihood strategies. But how that seed is developed, how it is integrated with resource conserving technologies, and how farmers’ options are influenced by policies, are fundamental issues that CIMMYT is addressing in the changes that are underway.

2. A mission that puts people first

CIMMYT’s mission continues to emphasize improved food security, the productivity and profitability of farming systems, and the protection of natural resources. However, the new mission statement highlights CIMMYT’s commitment to the poor and acknowledges the central role of CIMMYT’s partners in sharing knowledge, catalyzing innovation, and making an impact: CIMMYT acts as a catalyst and leader in a global maize and wheat innovation network that serves the poor in developing countries. Drawing on strong science and effective partnerships, we create, share, and use knowledge and technology to increase food security, improve the productivity and profitability of farming systems, and sustain natural resources.

3. A new approach to partnering

As indicated in the mission statement, CIMMYT will engage in more strategic partnering and networking to catalyze and effect change within rural communities. Some of CIMMYT’s activities will be outsourced to partners in the public and private sectors. CIMMYT will engage in more collaborative priority setting and implementation of research with its partners, including other CGIAR Centers.

4. A new approach to research

To better clarify and respond to local needs, the contributions of cropping systems researchers, social scientists, plant breeders, molecular biologists, and many other disciplines must be joined together. CIMMYT’s new research programs—Genetic Resources, African Livelihoods, Rainfed Wheat Systems, Tropical Ecosystems, Intensive Agroecosystems, and Global and Strategic Research—rely on multidisciplinary teams to work on research priorities identified with CIMMYT’s partners.

5. How the programs fit together

The new programs are part of a continuum that extends from the characterization and use of genetic resources, to the development of maize and wheat varieties for specific ecologies and regions, to the use of these varieties in systems research to address local needs, and finally to the resulting global information that enables CIMMYT to learn from its experience and improve its effectiveness.

The global program on Genetic Resources develops information and inputs—primarily specialized breeding materials and methods—that enable the ecoregional programs to do their work more rapidly and effectively. The program works on genetic traits that are identified as priorities by the eco-regional programs (for example, drought tolerance).

The eco-regional programs—African Livelihoods, Rainfed Wheat Systems, Tropical Ecosystems, and Intensive Agro-ecosystems—emphasize maize and wheat systems research to improve the livelihoods of the poor in their respective regions and ecologies, where the challenges and opportunities for making an impact are more likely to be similar. These programs are designed to ensure that the research agenda is driven by local needs.

The program on Global and Strategic Research synthesizes and communicates what is learned across all of CIMMYT’s research programs. It assembles, manages, and provides strategic knowledge and information for research (for example, data from the molecular to the field level), supports capacity building, provides information for setting research priorities, and assesses the impact of research.

6. Working globally

CIMMYT’s research leadership and management have been decentralized to permit the Center to work from a global rather than a central base. The research and management teams now comprise staff in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

7. Contact points

If you are accustomed to contacting a particular researcher with whom you have worked over the years, please continue to do so. If that researcher is no longer working on your particular area of interest, he or she will connect you with someone who is.

For global and eco-regional programs:

For information on a particular commodity or discipline:

To obtain seed:

Seed health and quarantine information:

Information on capacity building:

  • Contact the CIMMYT office in your region to learn about current and planned capacity building opportunities throughout the world.