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Wheat retreat: Focusing on the future

Wheat production must increase 35% in the next two decades to meet growing demand, developing countries are suffering under the global food crisis, and CIMMYT’s umbrella organization, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, is undergoing a major change initiative. Hans-Joachim Braun, global wheat program (GWP) director, cited these evolving situations during a GWP brainstorming meeting held 27-29 May 2009 near Teotihuacán, Mexico where he stressed the importance of identifying the GWP’s key goals for the coming years.

‚ÄúWe are trying to implement the¬†‚Äėwisdom of the crowd,‚Äô ‚ÄĚ Braun said¬†of the meeting, which was structured¬†around open dialogue, small discussion¬†groups, and engaging brainstorming activities. ‚ÄúWorld food security relies¬†heavily on the work done by the people¬†in this room,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúOur discussions¬†here will help to focus the future of the¬†global wheat program and target our¬†business plan.‚ÄĚ

The core traits that all CIMMYT‚Ästdeveloped germplasm have are high¬†yield potential, tolerance to drought¬†and heat, resistance to cereals rusts,¬†and acceptable end-use quality. During¬†the meeting, other traits identified as¬†having high importance were lodging¬†resistance, resistance to septoria, and¬†nitrogen-use efficiency. Seven other¬†traits were acknowledged; each was¬†discussed in detail in terms of who¬†will focus on it, if new resources¬†are needed to adequately address¬†it, and anticipated costs. To increase¬†program efficiency, GWP staff also¬†identified barriers to CIMMYT‚Äôs¬†ability to improve food security¬†and administrative bottlenecks.

Other topics included conservation agriculture, GWP management structure, quality control for data, location for regional offices, and the complexities of private and public sector partnerships. On Friday afternoon, Scott Ferguson, deputy director general for Support Services, joined the group to discuss administrative issues. Overall, participating staff said the meetings were well organized and facilitated productive staff interaction and discussion of GWP issues. Suggestions for improvement included more outreach representation and clearly defined outcomes and follow-up.

For more information, please contact H.J.Braun@cgiar.org.