To feed a growing population on today’s cultivated land, the world must increase food production 70% by 2050, said the Mexican Agriculture Ministry’s (SAGARPA) coordinator of advisors, Omar Musalem, citing FAO data and speaking for Agriculture Secretary Francisco Mayorga at CIMMYT’s Ambassadors Day in El Batán on 14 September 2011.
With diplomatic representatives from 15 countries in attendance, the event was designed to raise awareness and foster discussion on partnerships to secure global food security through agricultural research, an issue at the forefront of recent G20 talks in France. Musalem highlighted the Sustainable Modernization of Traditional Agriculture (MasAgro) initiative—implemented by SAGARPA and CIMMYT with myriad national, regional, and local organizations, both public and private—as an innovative model.
Prefacing Musalem’s address and welcoming the guests, CIMMYT Director General Thomas Lumpkin cited global challenges for agriculture—climate change, population growth, resource scarcities, rising food prices, new diseases, and increasing demand for biofuels. “SUVs are competing with the hungry people in the developing world,” said Lumpkin. “To address these issues, we need to improve current varieties of maize and wheat, enabling them to tolerate weather extremes and diseases. We also need to use fertilizer and pesticides more efficiently and without polluting.”
As part of the event, the visitors toured the Wellhausen-Anderson Plant Genetic Resources Center with Thomas Payne and enjoyed a presentation on wheat’s wild relatives by David Bonnet. At the long-term conservation agriculture trial plot, Bram Govaerts described current efforts to test and promote CA practices among thousands of Mexican farmers. The group saw new maize and wheat varieties and learned in more detail about the work CIMMYT and its partners are doing on these crops, in field presentations by Félix San Vicente, Natalia Palacios, José Luis Torres, Marc Rojas, and Ravi Singh.
Interactions continued at a luncheon in the Guest House garden, closing this day of reaching out to Mexico City’s diplomatic corps. All participants enjoyed the cordial and professional attention of CIMMYT’s Corporate Services, particularly catering and security.