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MasAgro now core to sustainable agricultural development policy in Puebla, Mexico

Increasing the production of maize and wheat, counteracting the threat of food crises, and addressing the challenges of climate change for agriculture in Mexico: these are the objectives of MasAgro (the Sustainable Modernization of Traditional Agriculture), a collaborative initiative led by SAGARPA (the Mexican Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food) and CIMMYT, and officially launched in April this year.

On Tuesday 05 July 2011, Puebla became the first Mexican state to join MasAgro, upon signing an agreement with CIMMYT for joint coordination of the project. The partnership will promote modern agronomic techniques, such as conservation agriculture, and encourage the use of improved seed adapted to high-potential agro-ecological areas.

The signing ceremony was held in the “Edificio de Protocolos” building in the city of Puebla. Rafael Moreno Valle, the State Governor, said that MasAgro Puebla will have a significant impact on the livelihoods of small farmers in the state, with Puebla’s state-level efforts reinforcing those of SAGARPA at the federal level to boost the impact of the program. Moreno Valle said the principal objective of the agreement was for the farmers of Puebla to develop their production capacities and ensure the sustainability of the rural environment, but he was also confident that Puebla would contribute to meeting the global challenge of doubling food production.

For his part, Francisco Mayorga Castañeda, Mexican Secretary of Agriculture, spoke of MasAgro as “the most important agricultural policy of recent years in Mexico.”

Representing CIMMYT at the event were Scott Ferguson, deputy director general for support services, and Bram Govaerts, leader of the Take it to the Farmer component of the MasAgro program. Explaining how MasAgro works in practice, Govaerts mentioned that, to date, CIMMYT has coordinated more than 40 training events in agricultural techniques, attended by more than 3,500 farmers who grow rainfed maize and small grain cereals in the lowland and highland valley regions of Mexico.