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Iran and CIMMYT Sign Agreement to Open CIMMYT Office in Iran

May 14, 2012
May, 2004

photo1_iranThis month, a formal Memorandum of Understanding was signed by representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran and CIMMYT. Under the Memorandum of Understanding, Iran will provide funds and other kinds of support for CIMMYT to open an office and conduct research in Iran. CIMMYT anticipates that the office will open in late 2004

The Memorandum was signed on behalf of Iran by Dr. Ali Ahoonmanesh (left), Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Head of the Agricultural Research and Education Organization (AREO). It was signed on behalf of CIMMYT by Dr. Masa Iwanaga (right), CIMMYT Director General.

Dr. Ahoonmanesh highlighted the importance of cooperation between the Iranian research institutes and CIMMYT over the last decades and the significant impact on national food security of the wheat varieties released under the joint collaboration. He hoped the CIMMYT office would play an important role in enhancing the joint research partnership in Iran as well as partnerships in the region.

“CIMMYT is extremely fortunate to be invited to work more closely with Iran,” says Masa Iwanaga, CIMMYT Director General. “Iran is in the center of domestication and diversity of bread wheat. This diversity is a tremendous asset for wheat improvement research. Iran also has high levels of wheat production and consumption. Its highly trained scientists will provide valuable insights for CIMMYT’s research program, and the research conducted in Iran will be highly complementary to our other work in the region. We hope that by working more closely we can extend the local and international impact of Iran’s and CIMMYT’s wheat research.”

According to FAO, Iran produced almost 13 million tons of wheat in 2003 on 6.5 million hectares, making it one of the largest producers in West Asia and North Africa. Wheat accounts for almost half of the calories consumed by Iranians every day.

CIMMYT and Iran have worked together for decades. Iran regularly evaluates and provides data on experimental wheats from CIMMYT, and many Iranian researchers have come to CIMMYT for training over the years. The world’s major sources of resistance to Russian wheat aphid, a pest that became increasingly important around the world in the 1980s, came from Iranian wheats that had been provided to CIMMYT’s genebank. Several Iranian researchers have come to CIMMYT in recent months to work on areas of mutual interest.

“The new office is a significant step towards strengthening our collaboration,” says Iwanaga. “The problems confronted by Iran’s wheat farmers—including severe water shortages and root diseases and pests—are shared by many countries in Central and West Asia and North Africa, so solutions developed through the Iran-CIMMYT collaboration could prove useful in many parts of the world.”

After the Memorandum was signed, two CIMMYT researchers, wheat breeder Thomas Payne and nematologist Julie Nicol, spent several days traveling throughout the country to become acquainted with their Iranian colleagues’ research programs.