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Wheat meets

Staff of CIMMYT’s Global Wheat Program have just concluded a week of intense meetings at El Batán. For the first three days the scientific team presented highlights and research results from work over the past year. Three strong foci for the program emerged from the meetings, according to Hans Braun, the program director. “Increased wheat production needed for food security in many countries on, at best, constant but more likely declining acreage can only be met through higher yields,” he says. “Of course, at CIMMYT it has always been a priority and that will continue.” The other two important research challenges that must be faced are breeding new cultivars with resistance to stem rust, which has now spread from Africa into the Arabian Peninsula, and breeding wheat that is adapted to conditions due to climate change. Braun pointed out to the group that one of the long-standing pillars of the CIMMYT wheat breeding programs—wide adaptation—will contribute to developing germplasm to cope with climate change.

The group also worked on the program’s contribution to this year’s medium-term plan and on the last two days heard presentations that looked to the future. Dave Hodson from ITAU talked about the need and potential for a global wheat production atlas and wheat breeder Yann Manes explored the potential for rapid progress in wheat breeding using techniques such as doubled-haploids.