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Integration of farmers and science through patronato a “model” for linking researchers and farmers

On 15 March 2012, Mexican producers and representatives of INIFAP, Patronato, the Sonoran Government, representatives of different dependencies of SAGARPA, CIMMYT and numerous local collaborators gathered at the Centro Experimental Norman E. Borlaug (CENEB) near Ciudad Obregón, Sonora, Mexico, to discuss technologies currently being developed as part of the MasAgro initiative. The meeting was led by SAGARPA Undersecretary for Agriculture, Mariano Ruiz-Funes Macedo, Hans Braun, Director of CIMMYT’s Global Wheat Program, and Bram Govaerts, leader of the Take it to the Farmer component of MasAgro.


As a state, Sonora has embraced MasAgro. It currently has 11,875 hectares of impact including conservation agriculture (CA), crop diversification and the use of infrared sensors for wheat. Govaerts explained that, apart from CA techniques, producers in the region are already using calibrated technologies for precision agriculture, such as the GreenSeeker or SPAD, for calculating the optimal levels of required fertilizer, this as a result of the intense work Ivan Ortiz-Monasterio has been developing together with local farmer unions. CENEB has been the cradle for the development of most of the wheat varieties available worldwide, said Braun, who also highlighted the important role of Mexico, through MasAgro, to identify more varieties resistant to drought, diseases, and pests.

sonora21During the visit, Govaerts demonstrated the MasAgro machinery platform, and explained the importance of Mexico being able to manufacture crop machinery and implements that can be used in the different agro-ecological zones of the country. Govaerts stressed that these technology transfer processes must impact farmers, technicians, researchers, and companies which develop this type of machinery in the different regions.

Ruiz-Funes also visited the Patronato facilities where, through the SAGARPA Genetic Resources program, and the Patronato’s own funds, they have strengthened their capacities for multiplying seed as part of MasAgro, according to Patronato leader, Antonio Gándara. The linkage with Patronato is a perfect example of researchers working hand in hand with farmers said Ruiz-Funes. We should replicate this effort in other states, he added.