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CIMMYT inspires Texas A&M students

During August 10-20 2008 CIMMYT El Batán is hosting a group of 16 students from Texas A&M University, accompanied by Ronald Cantrell, former Director of the CIMMYT Maize Program and Director General of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and Steve Hague, Professor in Cotton Breeding at A&M’s Faculty of the Soil and Crop Science Department. This is the second time a group of A&M students has come to CIMMYT, following a successful visit in July 2007.

The trip is intended to introduce students to international agricultural research and the CGIAR and develop their understanding of the challenges and opportunities in developing country agricultural systems. Their first two days were spent at El Batán, but their packed schedule also includes trips to CIMMYT’s Toluca and Tlaltizapán experimental stations and interactions with subsistence farmers, as well as visits to Mexico’s National Institute of Forestry, Agricultural and Animal Research (INIFAP) and their CEVAMEX.

The visitors are enthusiastic about what they’ve seen and agree that their visit has given them a wider perspective on the process of getting improved crops to farmers. “I’ve been very impressed with the diversity here at CIMMYT,” says Payne Burks, an undergraduate student in agronomy who plans to pursue plant breeding. “You have people from all over the world, but they all share the same goals in improving staple crops for the future of our world.” Estela Cardenas, a master’s student in public health, says she is learning a lot. “My background is not in agronomy so I’m taking the nutrition side, for example the work on vitamin A, tryptophan, and so on, and relating it to my studies. It’s very relevant to solving world hunger.”

Tim Merta is studying agronomy but already sees himself as a farmer “It’s neat to see all the people behind the scenes—it’s given me more of an appreciation because I know the efforts that have gone into what we’re growing,” he says. “I’m more willing now for our government to give more funding.”