CIMMYT History Timeline


1943 Program launches to raise Mexico’s agricultural productivityThe Office of Special Studies (OSS) is established as an agency of the Mexican Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation with bean, maize, potatoes and wheat improvement programs.
1943 Maize germplasm bank establishedFirst collection of Mexican and other Latin American landraces from which the current germplasm bank evolved.
1944 Dr. Norman Borlaug joins the OSS as a wheat pathologistHe sets up field work on an abandoned research plot near Texcoco, reconstructing a broken-down tractor with spare parts and sleeping in a ramshackle hut on site.
1945 Wheat shuttle breeding Borlaug proposes to breed wheat at locations separated by 1,000 km, 10 degrees in latitude, and 2,600 m in altitude. This was a radical and controversial concept, at the time.
1948 First improved wheat varieties are released in MexicoKentana 47, Chapingo 48, Yaqui 48 and Nazas 48 are released from crosses made in Mexico starting in 1945.
1950s Training Mexican scientists 400 Mexican scientists train for their MSc degrees with the OSS; 75 go on to complete PhD studies, forming an influential generation of agricultural leaders for Mexico.
1956 Mexico achieves wheat self-sufficiency Development of high-yielding wheat varieties that were rust-resistant and day-length insensitive helps Mexico become self-sufficient in wheat for the first time.
Early 1960s From Mexico to the worldSeed is made freely available to researchers worldwide through a network of international seed nurseries, a practice that continues today. Over the past 25 years, CIMMYT has distributed more than 91,000 maize and 158,000 wheat varieties to researchers and impoverished farmers around the world.
1961  The end of OSSThe Office of Special Studies ends and staff are integrated into a new agency, the National Institute of Agricultural Research (INIA).
1963 Expansion to South Asia….the Green RevolutionAs famine ravages the subcontinent, Borlaug and Dr. Glenn Anderson go to India to test the new Mexican wheat varieties there. Over the next five years hundreds of tons of semi-dwarf wheat varieties are shipped to India and Pakistan. Yields are higher than any ever harvested, nearly doubling previous levels.
1966 CIMMYT’s goes global, beginning of a new day for world agricultureThe International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) is established as an independent non-profit international research institution with a mandate to ensure food security in Mexico and abroad through selective plant breeding and crop improvement.
1968 CIMMYT lays down roots in MexicoThe Mexican government grants land to CIMMYT for a headquarters in El Batán, 45 km from downtown Mexico City, and for experiment stations elsewhere in Mexico.
1970 Norman Borlaug is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize For his unceasing work to feed a hungry world and is credited with saving millions of lives across Asia.
1971 Establishment of the CGIARCIMMYT became one of the first international research centers to be supported through the CGIAR. Today, the CGIAR comprises 15 such centers, all dedicated to sustainable food security through scientific research.
1976 International nurseries send seed to hundreds of partners worldwide6,800 kg of seed is sent to 113 countries. Today CIMMYT sends 45,440 kg.
1977 Bobwhite spring wheat variety releasedOne of CIMMYT’s most famous varieties and the standard cultivar for biotech wheat research.
1977 CIMMYT’s economics program goes globalRegional economics programs launch in East Africa and the Andean region followed by Central America in 1978, and South Asia in 1978.
Mid-80s Quality protein maize improves productivity and nutritionCIMMYT researchers Surinder K. Vasal and Evangelina Villegas produce quality protein maize (QPM), whose grain features enhanced levels of the amino acids lysine and tryptophan.
1981 Where did they film that?CIMMYT headquarters serves for two days as a location for the movie Mexico 2000, a satire of what the country would be in 20 years.  Maize plots at El Batán were used to represent plots of an ordinary smallholder’s homestead.
1994 Work to save native maize populations continues700-year old maize seeds are discovered by archeologists in Peru and shipped to CIMMYT seed bank.
1995 CIMMYT joins the digital ageCIMMYT’s first website launches!
1996 CIMMYT’s Wellhausen–Anderson Genetic Resources Center OpensThe new Center incorporates the seed distribution unit and germplasm bank, which today is home to the world’s most important collections of wheat (150,000 accessions) and maize (27,000 accessions).
2000 Former CIMMYT scientists Surinder Vasal and Evangelina Villegas win Millennium World Food Prize for research that improved the productivity and nutritional content of maize, benefiting the diets of millions of the world’s most underfed and poorly nourished citizens. Their development of Quality Protein Maize (QPM) and advancement of its cultivation around the world have contributed enormously to livelihoods.
2005 CIMMYT conducts first ever public wheat mapping population study 
2007 Implementation of one of the first marker assisted selection programs in public wheat breedingThis was conducted using CIMMYT international wheat trials, to show how to establish marker-trait association in a wheat breeding context. 
2008 CIMMYT begins work on double-haploid maizeDoubled haploid technology is one of the most important modern ways of accelerating the development of improved maize varieties, saving time and labour, but most importantly getting varieties to farmers quicker.
2009 Conservation Agriculture Program launchesCIMMYT formally launched its Conservation Agriculture Program after 20 years of research in the field. In the 1990s and early 2000s, CIMMYT projects in Central America and South Asia focus on resource-conserving practices like zero tillage, keeping crop residues on the soil, and rational use of rotations.
2012 Maize and Wheat CRPs launchInternational collaborations between more than 300 partners from the public and private sectors, national institutions, international research organizations and seed companies. This unique partnership seeks to mobilize global resources in research and development to achieve a greater strategic impact on maize- and wheat- based farming systems in Africa, South Asia and Latin America.
2013 Bill Gates and Carlos Slim open new labs at CIMMYT HQ20,000 square meters laboratories, greenhouses, and training facilities are constructed for cutting-edge research by CIMMYT to help speed the access of developing country farmers to the benefits of science and innovation.
2014 World Food Prize Awards 

Former CIMMYT scientist Sanjaya Rajaram wins World Food Prize for his scientific research that led to a prodigious increase in world wheat production – by more than 200 million tons – building upon the successes of the Green Revolution.