On 21 September 2012, CIMMYT-El Batán opened its doors to 280 students, accompanied by their professors, from 14 Mexican universities for the 6th “Open Door” event. This year, students visited the wheat and maize programs, conservation agriculture demonstration plots, the germplasm bank, and biotechnology and cereal laboratories.
Initiated by CIMMYT knowledge management and training specialist Petr Kosina in 2007, the “Open Door” event aims to give Mexican students an overview of CIMMYT activities and to help them understand how CIMMYT’s work can influence their studies and future careers. The students participating in the 2012 event appreciated the activities, as Grecia Daniela Ruiz from Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Salvatierra, Guanajuato, said: “We haven’t slept much, yet being here is so exciting. Every place we toured provided me with new experiences. As I continue to learn in the field and in the lab, my mind changes for good. CIMMYT is inspiring.”
Innovation, the use of organic fertilizer and other natural products to preserve the soil, avoiding chemical contamination, and working with farmers in sustainable ways were among the topics most discussed by the students, especially those from the newly opened program on sustainable agricultural technology in Michoacán and from the engineering on sustainable agricultural innovation program in Guanajuato. “I would like to do innovative work to reduce contamination and promote sustainable crops which are less harmful to the soil and people,” said Ericka Yazmín Rivera from Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Los Reyes, Michoacán. Víctor Octavio Villanueva, a recently graduated agronomist currently teaching agronomy, added: “What I like most is that CIMMYT works with many disciplines and has lots of researchers. They conduct their experiments in the lab and in the field. CIMMYT’s germplasm bank is also impressive. I wish I had visited the Center when I was a student.” The students also appreciated the connection between research and development. Ericka Yazmín Rivera noted: “CIMMYT’s work may seem to be focused on farmers, but in the end it reaches beyond farming as the world experiences food scarcity.”
Ma. de Lourdes de la Isla, emeritus researcher and professor at Colegio de Postgraduados (CP), sent a thank-you letter to the CIMMYT Training Office, saying the event“provided a very valuable source of knowledge.” She also praised the professionalism of the organizers and presenters. Special thanks to all the presenters, and to Daniela Flores Castillo and Norma Hernández for coordinating the logistics.