The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) is the world’s premier center for research, development, and training in maize and wheat and in farming systems for those two essential food crops. From its headquarters in Mexico and offices throughout the developing world, the center works with partners worldwide to reduce poverty and hunger by sustainably increasing the productivity of maize and wheat cropping systems.
CIMMYT maintains one of the world’s largest and most diverse maize and wheat seed collections and is best known for work leading to the Green Revolution—the widespread adoption of improved crop varieties and farming practices that saved millions of lives across Asia and for which CIMMYT’s Dr. Norman Borlaug was awarded the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. CIMMYT is a member of the CGIAR Consortium and receives support from national governments, foundations, development banks, and other public and private agencies.
Diversity in staffing and partnerships
The center has approximately 180 specialized research staff from over 40 countries, along with 700 support staff, working at 5 research stations in Mexico and 18 offices throughout the developing world.
History: Strong foundations in Mexico
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. Read more
Today’s work to meet tomorrow’s challenges
Carrying on Borlaug’s legacy as a hunger-fighter and champion of farmers, CIMMYT has developed strategies―called the MAIZE and WHEAT CGIAR Research Programs―that describe how the world's maize and wheat research and development communities must work together for food security, providing maize and wheat at prices affordable to the poor while facing rising demand for food, climate change, and a healthier environment.
Key initiatives of the strategies include MasAgro-the Sustainable Modernization of Traditional Agriculture, wherein CIMMYT, the Mexican government, and the international scientific community are collaborating to increase maize and wheat productivity, obtain higher returns on the yields of these two basic and strategic crops, and make sure that increased productivity does not contribute to climate change.
Proof of concept: CIMMYT impacts to date
- Recent estimates indicate that wheat varieties developed by CIMMYT and its partners are planted on more than 64 million hectares in developing countries, representing more than 75% of the area planted to modern wheat varieties in those countries.
- Maize varieties developed by CIMMYT and its partners are planted on nearly half of the area sown to improved varieties in non-temperate areas of the developing world.
- CIMMYT scientists who developed more nutritious maize varieties received the 2000 World Food Prize.
- As reported in Science magazine, in the absence of CGIAR Centers such as CIMMYT, with their many partners in the developing world, crop yields in developing countries would have been 19.5-23.5% lower; prices for food crops would have been 35-66% higher; imports would be 27-30% higher; calorie intake would have been 13.3-14.4% lower; and 32-42 million more children would have been malnourished. The area planted to crops would be 4% higher for wheat and 2% for maize.