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Quality protein maize cultivars released in El Salvador

Three quality protein maize hybrids—Platino (CML144/CML159//CML503/CML502), Oro Blanco(CML503/CML492//CML491), and synthetic Protemas (03TLWQAB3)—were released to farmers at the headquarters of the national center for agriculture and livestock technology (CENTA) in San Andrés, La Libertad, El Salvador, on Wednesday 18 June 2008.

More than 500 farmers attended the ceremony along with extension agents and officials including the Minister of Agriculture, Mario Salaverria; the Vice Minister of Agriculture, Emilio Suadi; the Presidential High Commissioner for Agriculture, María Elena Sol; Ever Hernández, CENTA Board Chair; and Abraham Gonzáles, CENTA Director.

The Minister and the Vice Ministers spoke to farmers about the potential of the cultivars to alleviate hunger and malnutrition especially now, during the world food crisis. The new cultivars will be grown on 3,000 hectares this year, and the ministers promised that farmers will have enough seed to sow at least 20,000 hectares in 2009. Farmers who ran demonstration plots last year were happy that the cultivars were finally released.

Salaverria said he was impressed during a visit to CIMMYT last May and commended the center for its work to increase maize yields in El Salvador by 250 kg per hectare per year for the past 4 years. The national maize yield has increased to an average 3 tons per hectare, which is the highest in the region. The goal is to reach 4.3 tons per hectare in the next 10 years and to locally produce all white and yellow maize needed in the country. El Salvador is self-sufficient in white maize for food but imports all yellow maize used for the animal feed industry. The day of the release the price of yellow maize had reached USD 400 a ton.

On Friday 20 June Hugo CĂłrdova participated in a forum organized by the El Salvador Agronomists Society (SIADES) to discuss actions to reduce the impact of the food crisis and present alternatives from the Organization for Health Improvement of Agricultural Workers and Families in Guatemala (AGROSALUD) to alleviate hunger, malnutrition, and reduce poverty. Salaverria, who is Minister of Agriculture and Chair of the Central American Council of Agriculture (CAC), reiterated his interest in supporting AGROSALUD.

Submitted by Hugo CĂłrdova, CIMMYT Consultant