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French savoir-faire

FrenchAfter a year of exchanges, planning, and construction, CIMMYT and CMF, a French company manufacturing greenhouses, inaugurated CIMMYT’s new state-of-the-art greenhouses at El Batán on 13 June 2013. The facility is funded by CIMMYT and the Carlos Slim Foundation and is part of a vast laboratory complex opened on 13 February 2013 in the presence of Bill Gates and Carlos Slim.

It was a good opportunity for the French Ambassador, Elisabeth Beton Delègue, to come and visit CIMMYT, while supporting a dynamic French enterprise working in Mexico and other parts of the world. She was guided through the visit by Kevin Pixley, Marianne Bänziger, Renaud Josse (director of CMF) and his staff, and Guillermo Simon, representing CARSO, Carlos Slim’s conglomerate company.

“This is a great adventure,” said Beton Delègue. “It is the first time I see a realization of this type, with multiple possibilities allowing a dialogue between researchers and manufacturers and I am proud of our French technology.” CMF has designed a greenhouse of 1,577 m2 consisting of 21 cells that can reproduce different climates. It has its own weather station too. “We work closely with the researchers to define what the real research needs are,” explains Josse. “We try to build the most adequate project. One cell can reproduce a desertic climate, another a tropical climate. We work on the characterization of necessities in terms of temperature gaps and humidity fluctuations among other things.” This precise control of climatic parameters will be of great assistance for CIMMYT’s research on climate change.

The other building to be realized by CMF is a smaller greenhouse of 400 m2 which consists of five sealed cells for biosafety (BSL2 or biosafety level 2). No exchange between indoor and outdoor area will be possible. The project is well underway and should be completed soon.

Marianne Bänziger reflected on the importance of the biosafety guarantee, and appreciated that calling in the experts in the area would certainly lead to higher quality research.

“I am very happy to participate in the inauguration of the greenhouses and to visit CIMMYT,” said Beton Delègue, “and I hope to collaborate with CIMMYT in the future because we have many projects going on which deserve that we meet again.”

For Ravi Singh, CIMMYT distinguished scientist, “the new greenhouses are like a new car model. The good control will help to improve efficiency and obtain better results.”