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Developing hybrids across the board at CIMMYT

Photo credit: CIMMYT
Photo credit: CIMMYT

When a CIMMYT scientist discusses developing hybrids, the first thought that comes to mind is probably new variety of drought tolerant maize.

However, CIMMYT engineers in the global conservation agriculture program are producing a whole different set of hybrids in the fields of El Batán, Mexico. At CIMMYT Day, Jelle Van Loon, Leader of Smart Mechanization and Machinery Innovation, explained the importance of creating “hybrids” of already existing machinery to meet the demands of farmers regionally.

Taking into consideration a varying range of crops, soils and climates, farmers not only need the correct seed, but also the proper technologies to work in their prospective environments. Looking at existing and functional machinery from different parts of the world, like China, Brazil, USA and India, Van Loon and his team are able to convert the machines to make them suitable for use in Mexico, for Mexican farmers.

“It is all a learning experience,” explained Van Loon to his CIMMYT colleagues. “We have to go into the fields and see what is working for these farmers. We have to meet their needs.” This is the very basis for the CIMMYT’s Take it to the Farmer initiative, which is designed to offer advice on a personal level and make innovations readily available to Mexican farmers.