The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Fundación Carlos Slim have announced a partnership in support of efforts by the Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maíz y Trigo (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center) in Mexico to develop and disseminate higher-yielding, more resilient wheat and maize varieties.
CIMMYT, the research center largely responsible for launching the Green Revolution, which led to dramatically increased crop yields around the world, this week dedicated a $25 million research complex funded by Fundación Carlos Slim. According to a joint statement issued by the two foundations, the new state-of-the art biotechnology labs and greenhouses will make it possible for researchers to speed the development of new seeds better able to tolerate heat and drought, disease, and pests. The center also will work to accelerate the use of mobile technology to provide farmers with information about weather, prices, and new techniques to improve productivity.
As these advances are scaled, the Gates Foundation will work to ensure that the techniques, products, and other resources developed by the center reach maize and wheat farmers in Africa and South Asia. According to the Associated Press, older genetic traits in seeds tend to be controlled by a few biotechnology and agricultural companies and are unavailable in the developing world, while new genetic traits developed by CIMMYT could be donated or provided cheaply to struggling farmers.
"Bringing together the collective experience of our respective organizations, we can promote innovation to transform the lives of farmers in Mexico and around the world," said Gates Foundation co-chair Bill Gates. "Investing in agricultural development is one of the most effective investments we can make. It allows farming communities to become self-sufficient and prosperous by growing and selling more of what they produce."