With much appreciated assistance from public and private sector maize extension specialists and innovative farmers, the first part of a two-part CIMMYT-hosted training course titled “Integrated management of maize-based cropping systems” was successfully completed last week in Mexico. Thirty-two participants attended the course, which ran from 26-30 July 2010 and focused on agronomy and pest management.
The participants spent four days at the Toluca experimental station, where their learning began with an analysis of different types of soil management and technologies for both irrigated and rainfed areas. From Tuesday to Thursday they focused on farm equipment and machinery (tractors, and fertilizing and sowing implements).
“I have worked with maize for two and a half years, and want to learn more about this crop so I can assist the farmers I work with,” said Antonia Viloria, an agronomist from Oaxaca who works with the Management Office for the Innovation of the Maize Chain (AGI), an agency closely related to SAGARPA. “I’ve attend various other maize workshops, but this was the first one that let us practice; here I was able to use and calibrate equipment, test the equipment in the field, and measure field distances.”
Other training activities included how to apply the proper amount of herbicides, insecticides, and fertilizers, and how to make standard and wide beds. On the last day, everyone traveled to El Batán where they learned about the Geographic Information Systems Unit (GIS), visited the germplasm bank, and saw maize material sown on CIMMYT’s demonstration plots.
“This course is vital because we already know that it is not possible to look at variables individually, like costs, climate change, or agronomy—everything is connected and we have to take into account that things are changing,” said Jaime Covarrubias, from Salamanca, Guanajuato. “On previous occasions I have worked with Fernando Delgado (Toluca’s station superintendent), yet I keep returning because there is always something new to learn, and I take this knowledge back and share it with farmers in my state.”
The participants will return in early October 2010 to complete the second part of the course, which will focus on existing maize varieties and post harvest technologies.
The organizers thank Fernando Delgado for his dedication during the workshop, and for being an example to many Mexican farmers and extension agents. Also, thanks go to Kai Sonder and his GIS team, Víctor Chávez and the germplasm bank staff, and José Luis Torres and his maize group.