KUNMING, China — The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) received a collaboration award recognizing contributions made to improving maize and wheat productivity, from the government in China’s Yunnan Province at a conference last month. CIMMYT scientist Dan Jeffers was on hand to receive the award at a ceremony held at the Innovation Conference, where the keynote speaker was Communist Party of China Secretary Jiheng Li, who described changes currently being made in the government to foster innovation. Xingming Fan, from the Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and CIMMYT’s collaborating partner responsible for establishing a CIMMYT office in the province, was recognized for the development of the Yunrui 88 maize hybrid, which is widely grown by farmers in Yunnan.
CIMMYT has been working in collaboration with scientists from the Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Sciences (YAAS) Institute of Food Crops for more than 40 years. During this period, scientists have introduced more than 4,000 maize and 9,500 wheat and barley genotypes, which have been used in their breeding programs to develop cultivars for farmers with improved yield, stress tolerance, disease resistance and enhanced nutritional quality. The impact of this work has received global recognition and many prestigious awards within China. Xingming Fan, director of the Institute of Food Crops, focused on maize and professor Yaxiong Yu in wheat, have been instrumental in developing cultivars for Yunnan farmers, and broadening the genetic base for maize and wheat for all of China.
Twenty two maize hybrids have been released at the provincial level and one hybrid at the national level. Of these hybrids, several quality protein maize hybrids, including Yunyou 19, Yunrui 21, Yunrui 1 and the high oil hybrid Yunrui 8, have led to increased yields, stress tolerance and improved efficiency in animal husbandry in southern China. The unique grain characteristics in protein, starch and oil content have also benefited the food processing industry.
Due to the capacity of YAAS scientists and the location of Yunnan, CIMMYT placed a scientist at the academy to further expand collaborative efforts for the development of maize germplasm with high yields and improved stress tolerance for southern China and neighboring countries, as well as serving as donors of stress-resilient traits needed in China’s 33 million hectares of temperate maize.
Yunnan serves as an introduction point for CIMMYT’s wheat and barley experimental germplasm trails and for the ecological diversity of the province that allows YAAS scientists the potential to identify genotypes suited for use in the Yunnan breeding program as well to provide materials for over 20 organizations throughout China. The wheat varieties Yunmai 39 and Yunmai 42 have received provincial awards, and barley variety Yundamai 2 has set national yield records. CIMMYT wheat varieties cover 25 percent of Yunnan’s wheat area, and successful collaboration has led to staff training and the development of a shuttle breeding program with several countries.