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CIMMYT grew out of a pilot program sponsored by the Mexican government and the Rockefeller Foundation in the 1940s-50s to raise Mexico’s farm productivity.

The wheat specialist in this program, Norman Borlaug, worked with Mexican researchers and farmers to develop strong, short-stemmed varieties that resisted the rust diseases and gave much more grain than traditional varieties.

Having been bred and selected at diverse Mexican locations, the new wheat lines were adapted to many types of farm settings. They helped Mexico attain self-sufficiency for wheat in the 1950s and were imported by India and Pakistan in the 1960s to stave off famine, soon bringing those countries record harvests. This led to the widespread adoption of improved varieties and farming practices, called the “Green Revolution.”

CIMMYT was formally launched in 1966. Borlaug received the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for his contributions to the Green Revolution, worked as a CIMMYT wheat scientist and research leader through 1979, and remained a distinguished consultant for the center until his death in 2009.


2013
CIMMYT seed varieties are grown in more than 100 countries.
More than 10,000 researchers worldwide are alumni of CIMMYT training programs. They play a critical role in their home countries helping the world's poorest and most marginalized farmers.
Seed, from the CIMMYT Seed Bank, is made available, freely, to researchers worldwide. Over the past 25 years, CIMMYT has distributed more than 91,000 maize and 158,000 wheat varieties to researchers and impoverished farmers around the world.
CIMMYT's Seed Bank is the world's largest collection of wheat (150,000 accessions) and maize (27,000 accessions).
CIMMYT employs more than 700 people from 38 countries in 18 offices around the world.
2008
CIMMYT maize physiologist Dr. José Luis Araus receives the prestigious China Friendship Award for increasing cereal yield potential.
Dr. Hugo Salvador Córdova Orellana, CIMMYT Distinguished Scientist, receives the title of Knight Commander of the Order Manuel Amador Guerrero by the Republic of Panamá for increasing the productivity of maize crops.
Dr. Ravi Singh receives the Jinding Award from Sichuan Provincial Government, China, in recognition of CIMMYT’s contribution to wheat production.
2006
CIMMYT receives the CGIAR King Baudouin Award 2006 for an innovative series of maize breeding projects in Southern and Eastern Africa that has produced more than 50 new varieties planted on more than 1 million hectares.
Dr. Norman Borlaug, “Father of the Green Revolution,” is awarded the National Medal of Science, the United States’ most prestigious honor for scientific achievements.
Dr. Norman Borlaug receives the Padam Vibhushan Award, India's highest civilian award, for his services to the farmers in the subcontinent.
2004
Dr. Tony Fischer is awarded the CM Donald Medal in recognition of his unique contribution to agriculture in Australia.
CIMMYT’s Dr. Bram Govaerts is awarded the Belgian Development Co-operation Prize for his contribution to the pursuit of sustainable development in the global South.
2003
CIMMYT’s Dr. Guillermo Ortiz-Ferrara is awarded the Gold Medal for Peace by His Majesty Government of Nepal and the International Organization of Journalists for his contribution to peace and prosperity in Nepal by helping poor farmers improve both their livelihoods and the country’s agricultural development.
2002
Dr. Ken Sayre, Wheat Program agronomist, receives the Qilu Friendship Award, the highest honor conferred upon foreigners by the Government of Shandong Province, China.
Dr. Norman E. Borlaug receives the Public Welfare Medal, the National Academy of Sciences' most prestigious award. Borlaug is credited with preventing the deaths of millions through high-yielding, disease-resistant wheat.
The Bolivian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development confers a medal to CIMMYT’s Dr. Patrick Wall for work in wheat to benefit the Bolivian agricultural sector.
2001
CIMMYT distinguished scientist, Dr. Surinder K. Vasal, is presented with the Chinese Friendship Award for his contributions to the betterment of conditions in China.
The President of Kenya awards Dr. Wilfred Mwangi the Elder of the Orders of the Burning Spear (EBS) for his distinguished services rendered to Kenya on behalf of CIMMYT.
2000
CIMMYT scientists who developed more nutritious maize varieties received the 2000 World Food Prize.
1999
India harvests 74 million tons of wheat.
1997
Khazahkstan and China offices opens.
1994
700-year old maize seeds are discovered by archeologists in Peru and shipped to CIMMYT seed bank.
 
1985
CIMMYT-derived wheats are grown on 45 million hectares in the developing world. CIMMYT maize is grown on 5 million hectares.
1977
CIMMYT-derived wheats are grown on 29.3 million hectares in the developing world.
1976
CIMMYT Facts. International staff: 60. Budget: $10 million USD. Seed distribution: 7.5 tons sent to 113 countries.
1972
India harvests 27 million tons of wheat.
Maize Seed Bank completed. The bank saves many native maize populations from extinction.
1971
CIMMYT offices move from Mexico City to El Batan.
1970
Using Borlaug's seed, India harvests 20.1 million tons of wheat (up from 12.3 million tons in 1965) and Pakistan harvests 7.3 million tons of wheat (up from 4.6 million tons in 1965).
Norman Borlaug is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and credited with saving millions of lives across Asia.
1968
The Mexican government grants land to CIMMYT for a headquarters in El Batan (outside of Mexico City) and experimental stations in other parts of the country.
1966
In order to feed growing populations, India and Pakistan are forced to import 15 million tons of food grain. It is the largest food deficit in the world.
The project in Mexico is renamed again. CIMMYT is officially founded through an agreement between the Rockefeller Foundation and the Mexican Secretariat of Agriculture. Norman Borlaug is appointed director of the Wheat Program.
CIMMYT Facts. International staff: 8. Budget: greater than $1 million USD. Seed distribution: A small quantity of experimental seed is sent to 28 countries.
1965
Pakistan imports 250 tons of Borlaug's wheat seed from Mexico. India imports 200 tons.
1963
Borlaug goes to India. Approximately 1,000 pounds of Borlaug's wheat seed – bred in Mexico – is shipped to India for testing.
1961
The Office of Special Studies is terminated and the staff is integrated into a new agency, the National Institute of Agricultural Research (INIA).
1950's
The gains of the "Silent Mexican Wheat Revolution" make Mexico self-sufficient in wheat. The expertise and materials developed in Mexico later play a key role in Asia's "Green Revolution."
1944
Norman Borlaug joins The Office of Special Studies and begins breeding wheat plants resistant to stem rust in Mexico.
1943
The Office of Special Studies, a collaborative agriculture project in Mexico, is created by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Government of Mexico.
1940
Marte R. Gomez, Mexico's Minister of Agriculture; Alfonso Gonzalez Gallardo, Mexico's Subsecretary of Agriculture; and Henry Wallace, Vice President of the United States, discuss agricultural cooperation between the two countries.

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