President Felipe Calderón delivered his state of the nation address last Friday, 02 September, at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico. While security and economic stability were highlighted as top priorities for President Calderón’s last year in office, he also stressed the importance of agricultural development, food security, and the development and access of technologies for farmers.
In his report to Congress, President Calderón made specific reference to the importance of the MasAgro project in achieving these objectives. He stated that “the project that began in April 2011 is the most important legacy in agricultural policy of the current administration, as it contributes to achieving food security for Mexican families by giving access to agricultural technologies adapted to a new environment”.
MasAgro (The Sustainable Modernization of Traditional Agriculture Project) is a comprehensive initiative focused on developing high yielding varieties of maize and wheat, achieving sustainable increases in production, as well as delivering the latest technologies to small-scale farmers throughout the states of Mexico. The Take it to the Farmer (TTF) component of MasAgro is an integral part of the initiative, incorporating conservation agriculture (CA) practices and precision tools for Mexican agricultural producers.
Demonstrating the impact of CA on maize production, Porfirio Bastida Olivares from Magdalena Panoaya, Texcoco, told CIMMYT that his yield before implementing CA techniques was 2.5 tons, which has increased to 4 tons after two years, on his 0.5 ha farm. He said that now, not only does he have enough maize to feed his family, but he is able to earn an income from his crop as well. The MasAgro project aims to implement this level of increase for small-scale farmers relying on rainfed agriculture throughout the entire country.
Reinforcing the high priority of agriculture, Francisco Javier Mayorga Castañeda, the Secretary of SAGARPA (Mexican Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food), delivered a press conference on 01 September, where he stated that “MasAgro is considered the most important and ambitious agricultural project of the current administration because it aims to sustainably increase the production of maize and wheat, along with their yielding potential, for the benefit of small farmers”.
MasAgro was launched on 05 April 2011 by CIMMYT and SAGARPA during an official visit of President Calderón to CIMMYT headquarters. It is one of the largest and most comprehensive programs launched in Mexico and aims to increase maize yields by 5-9 million tons and 350,000 tons of wheat by the year 2020.