The Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries, and Food (SAGARPA) reiterated its commitment to applied research and technological development to boost the productivity of smallholders through its partnership with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).
Both institutions are working on renovating and strengthening the Sustainable Modernization of Traditional Agriculture (MasAgro) project to include its objectives and accomplishments into the Mexican Crusade against Hunger that the Mexican Government is implementing, said Secretary Enrique Martínez y Martínez.
He asserted that MasAgro is an integrated strategy that works to improve the sustainability and productivity of maize and wheat, two crops of strategic importance for Mexico, which strengthens food security and makes it possible to phase out subsidies that cause market distortions and do not contribute to build capacities.
During a meeting with CIMMYT researchers, the head of SAGARPA explained that the Government of Mexico seeks to create closer links between the two institutions to avoid effort duplication and to create synergies that will lead to greater knowledge and technology exchange.
He stated that the partnership between SAGARPA and CIMMYT allows leveraging MasAgro’s results to expand its presence in the poorest communities that have the smallest maize and wheat production areas, which are being targeted by the Mexican Crusade against Hunger.
He also pointed out that SAGARPA, along with CIMMYT, seeks to take advantage of the development of new agricultural technologies to incorporate them into the practices of small farmers, with an aim to trigger regional development based on the needs and opportunities present in each area.
He emphasized that to broaden MasAgro’s sustainable and productive impacts in rural areas and pave the way for a new Green Revolution, the Secretariat will work closely and in coordination with CIMMYT through agencies such as the Mexican Food, Agriculture and Fishery Information Service (SIAP), the Forestry, Agricultural, and Livestock Research Institute (INIFAP) and the Agricultural and Food Health, Safety and Farm Quality Service (SENASICA).
He also invited CIMMYT and INIFAP to develop and to transfer new applied agricultural technologies to other crops such as sorghum for the state of Tamaulipas.
In his speech, CIMMYT Director General Thomas Lumpkin described MasAgro as a seed sown in 2010 that is starting to grow and expand, which must now be nurtured with new knowledge and input from SAGARPA.
He also pointed out that MasAgro is a long-term strategy (10 years) that seeks to increase the production of maize and wheat, two grains that are important for people’s diet. He added that it is currently in a refining and expansion stage that will broaden its impact on Mexico’s rural areas and make it possible to replicate MasAgro in other countries that may require it.
Bram Govaerts, leader of the MasAgro component “Take it to the farmer”, pointed out that the initiative has trained 1,649 technicians through PROMAF (Support Program for the Maize and Bean Production Chain). He also mentioned that MasAgro now has five hubs and that three more will start operating in a few days.
Govaerts also stated that MasAgro seeks to increase smallholders’ productivity and bring them up to the next level in a sustainable manner. He added that MasAgro is joining the Mexican Crusade against Hunger and making its research and technology infrastructure available to evaluate technologies that are adapted to the needs of rainfed subsistence maize producers. CIMMYT would also seek to form synergies with SAGARPA’s productive schemes thereby responding to farmers’ needs.
Before meeting with researchers, the head of SAGARPA toured CIMMYT’s facilities and germplasm bank, where he learned the details of how MasAgro’s four components work, from identifying genes present in maize landraces to developing machines for sowing crops.
The meeting and tour were also attended by Jesús Aguilar Padilla, Subsecretary of Agriculture, Ricardo Aguilar Castillo, Subsecretary of Food and Competitiveness, Enrique Sánchez Cruz, Director of Mexico’s Agricultural and Food Health, Safety and Farm Quality Service (SENASICA), and Pedro Díaz de la Vega, Director General of Mexico’s Food, Agriculture and Fishery Information Service (SIAP).
Also present were Mireille Roccatti Velázquez, General Counsel of the Agriculture Secretariat, Héctor René García Quiñones, General Coordinator of Sector Linkages, Belisario Domínguez Méndez, Director General of SAGARPA’s Technological Productivity and Development department, Enriqueta Molina Macías, Director General of the Mexican Seed Inspection and Certification Service (SNICS), and José Manuel Romero Coello, Director General of the Mexican Youth Institute.