Left: Belisario Domínguez Méndez, Director General of Productivity and Technological Development for Mexico Subsecretary of Agriculture, SAGARPA; middle: Tom Short, Deputy Director General of CIMMYT Corporate Services; Javier Valdés, Director General of Syngenta México.
CIMMYT and leading agribusiness Syngenta México signed an agreement this month to work together in efforts aimed at sustainably increasing crop production in Mexico while protecting the environment and contributing to food security.
Syngenta will collaborate with CIMMYT to do research on conservation agriculture in four experimental platforms. The new project follows the same logic and goals of MasAgro, the Sustainable Modernization of Traditional Agriculture, which CIMMYT implements in coordination with Mexico’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries, and Food (SAGARPA). MasAgro aims to build the capacities of small-scale farmers to encourage the adoption of sustainable farming practices and technologies that may help increase maize and wheat output, in line with Mexico’s recently announced “Crusade Against Hunger.”
The three-year agreement will focus on improving maize productivity, generating more income for farmers, protecting natural resources, and combining Syngenta’s expertise with local knowledge to work directly with farmers. Syngenta and CIMMYT will also develop joint research protocols and offer courses in crop protection and adequate use of agrochemicals.
Soil conservation and protecting the biodiversity of undergrowth, small animals and beneficial insects will be another focus of the agreement. Both organizations have also expressed their interest in improving communication and information technologies (ITCs) in the agricultural sector.
Representatives from Syngenta and SAGARPA visited CIMMYT’s El Batán campus to see its conservation agriculture trial plots and germplasm bank before signing the agreement on 14 August 2013. Javier Valdés, Director General of Syngenta México, said during the ceremony that the agreement shows the company’s commitment to food security and sustainability. “We will continue to promote the formation of important publicprivate partnerships like the one we’re celebrating today to increase the productivity of crops like maize and wheat, which will help with economic, social and environmental development in rural communities in the country,” he said.
CIMMYT has worked on projects with Syngenta in the past. This new collaboration has been developing for years and is an example of cooperation between an international research organization and a private business. Scientific collaboration is essential for making maize production in Mexico sustainable and profitable for resource-constrained farmers, said Bram Govaerts, Deputy Director of CIMMYT’s Global Conservation Agriculture Program.
Govaerts said he thought the new partnership would have the same success as other CIMMYT programs worldwide. Belisario Domínguez, the director general of productivity and technological development for SAGARPA, said the vision of MasAgro is essential to the government’s national fight against hunger. Domínguez congratulated the two groups for forming the alliance and said that similar projects will promote the growth of the agricultural sector.