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Mexico’s Agriculture Minister flies to CIMMYT, fortifies partnership

The whirling blades of the official helicopter in which he arrived foretold something of the pace and intensity of CIMMYT’s tour for Alberto Cárdenas Jiménez, Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA), at El Batán on 01 August 2007.

After a quick introduction to CIMMYT from Masa Iwanaga, the Minister and his entourage, which included coordinator of international affairs and long-time CIMMYT partner, Víctor Villalobos Arámbula, visited superb field and lab presentations prepared by Kevin Pixley, Julio Huerta, Bram Govaerts, Suketoshi Taba, Mónica Mezzalama, Marilyn Warburton, and Natalia Palacios. They were accompanied among others by CIMMYT Trustees Julio Berdegué and Pedro Brajcich and a select group of 33 representatives of Mexico’s print, radio, and TV media, who interviewed Masa and Cárdenas in a 20-minute press conference following the tour. The busy day ended with closed-door chats with CIMMYT directors and administrators on research and non-science issues, and a late lunch in the Guest House.

Major Mexican media outlets posted at least a dozen stories on CIMMYT the following day (see the Intranet Informa for links to the reports). In a follow-up message thanking staff for their efforts, Masa said the visit had exceeded his expectations. Cárdenas seemed greatly to enjoy the tour and interactions with CIMMYT staff and praised the Center in several public statements during the day, at one point calling CIMMYT “…a jewel of humanity.”

He called on the Center to collaborate with Mexico on diverse fronts, including the development and dissemination of yellow maize hybrids, conservation agriculture, biotechnology, and addressing climate change in agriculture. “We realize that technology is a road we must travel with greater precision and efficacy, that it constitutes a tool which, in the case of Mexico, we should use to improve the lives of the 25 million Mexicans who live in rural areas.”