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Former DG praises CIMMYT’s progress, renews Japanese collaboration with CIMMYT

By Karen Willenbrecht/CIMMYT

CIMMYT’s previous director general had strong praise for the organization’s current working environment and leadership after a tour of the headquarters office at El Batán on 24 July.

(Left to right): Akira Endo, director of International Research and Cooperation Division, Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries; Masa Iwanaga, president of JIRCAS; Thomas Lumpkin, CIMMYT Director General; Hans-Joachim Braun, CIMMYT Global Wheat Program director; and Masahiro Kishii, CIMMYT scientist in wheat cytogenetics/wide crossing. Foto: Xochiquetzal Fonseca/CIMMYT

“I’m pleased to see the energy of the staff, the new facilities and how Tom has built on CIMMYT’s strengths,” Dr. Masa Iwanaga said. “It gives me professional satisfaction; the six years I devoted here have paid off handsomely.”

Masa, now president of the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS), came to CIMMYT to sign a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two organizations.

“Our previous agreement was signed in 1998,” Masa said after the signing ceremony. “I wanted to refresh and strengthen our relationship, and ensure more opportunities for scientific collaboration.”

He said the alliance is valuable because CIMMYT can translate the basic science conducted by his agency into practical applications for farmers. JIRCAS, part of Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, plays a core role in international collaborations for research in Japan.

Masa Iwanaga, CIMMYT’s former director general, paid a visit 24 July to headquarters, where he toured the gene bank and renewed
the memorandum of understanding between CIMMYT and his current organization. Photo: Xochiquetzal Fonseca/CIMMYT

The MOU calls for both organizations to cooperate on research projects that promote “agricultural technologies which will contribute to the increased production of agricultural commodities and improved natural resource management in developing countries in the world.” Masa and his successor, Dr. Thomas A. Lumpkin, discussed holding a conference in Japan this year, and Masa said he anticipates JIRCAS having a much stronger influence in the Global Wheat Program under the new MOU.

Dr. Marianne Bänziger, deputy director general for research and partnerships, said the collaboration with Japan on biological denitrification inhibition could support the next Green Revolution, as earlier Japanese technologies have done.

Masa was DG of CIMMYT from 2002 to 2008, a period of extreme financial difficulties for the organization. Lumpkin credited him with keeping CIMMYT afloat and bringing it back to profitability, establishing important new partnerships and continuing the Center’s record of scientific achievements and recognition.

“I appreciate all the staff who worked very hard with me to survive and make CIMMYT better,” Masa said. “It’s a stronger institution now.”