Many of us living in Mexico know the brand name Maseca from the flour packages we see in the supermarket. Maseca is one of three brands owned by the Gruma corporation, which produces and markets flour and tortillas in the US, Europe, and China.
A group from Maseca visited El Batán on 14 January, along with Dr. Pedro Brajcich, DG of the Mexican National Institute of Forestry, Agriculture, and Livestock Research (INIFAP), and Dr. Gricelda Vázquez, an important partner in maize quality research efforts from INIFAP. Dr. Julio Berdegué, chairman of the Board of Trustees and our DG, Tom Lumpkin, welcomed and accompanied the group during the visit.
CIMMYT has worked with Maseca in the past to quantify post-research losses in Mexico. “During the visit, they were interested in quality protein maize, the improvement of ‘criollos,’ and lab methods for quality analysis, among other topics,” says Kevin Pixley, associate director, CIMMYT Global Maize Program. (Criollos are maize landraces, or particular varieties that are farmer-selected and often highly adapted to specific areas). “We also talked about collaboration with INIFAP and CINVESTAV” (a postgraduate and research institution in Mexico), adds Pixley.
The Maseca delegation included Alfonso Cebreros, director of government relations; Guillermo Arteaga, deputy director biotechnology and innovation; Luis Manuel Rolón, manager, agricultural planning; Alfredo Morales Díaz, manager, central laboratory; and Montserrat González Torre, chief, biotechnology and innovation projects. Maseca imports about 80% of the wheat it uses for milling, says Javier Peña, wheat grain quality specialist. “They are interested in having new wheat varieties adapted to the Mexican highlands and central Mexico which suit their needs and will enable them to save on importation costs.” The group offered to help CIMMYT secure funding from the public and private sectors and also invited CIMMYT researchers
to visit their maize milling and processing plant as well as their wheat flour mill in Puebla to better understand food processing and maize and wheat quality needs.