Resilient crops for water limited environments: proceedings of a workshop held at Cuernavaca Mexico

In May of 2004, more than 150 scientists from around the world—mostly from Asia and Africa—met in Cuernavaca, Mexico to present and discuss their research on one of the world’s most intractable agricultural problems: drought tolerance in crop plants. The meeting, entitled the “Resilient Crops for Water-Limited Environments Program Workshop,” was supported by The Rockefeller Foundation and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). A truly global critical mass of expertise participated in the workshop, originating from more than 20 countries and three of the world’s international agricultural research centers; CIMMYT, IRRI, and WARDA. Of particular interest were maize, rice, and wheat, which account for more than half of the calories consumed by people in the developing world, and are the basis for their food security and livelihoods. Scientists comprehensively addressed the physiology, biochemistry, and genetics of plant response to water stress. In addition, they looked at drought toleran e from the ground-level perspective of incorporating farmer participation into varietal development, to the heights of molecular genetics/genomics/bioinformatics, and even how plant gene regulation pathways interact and respond to water deficits in a growing developing crop plant. Indeed our information and hence knowledge base in this subject is growing at a rapid rate. Specific goals of the workshop were information sharing among Rockefeller Foundation grantees from Africa and Asia; updating participants on knowledge generation, breeding technologies and capacity building, and seed delivery systems; and finally planning of collaborative research among the participants. These objectives were achieved beyond the expectations of the organizers and all are to be congratulated for their outstanding progress since our previous workshop held May 2002 at IRRI, Philippines. The ultimate aim of this program’s outputs is to stabilize food crop production through genetic improvement of cereals, primarily maize and rice for drought tolerance, thereby decreasing the shock of drought on the livelihoods of poor farm households in Africa and Asia. This program’s vision of success—the creation and delivery of new drought tolerant crop varieties to farmers—in turn is closely tied to parallel efforts to stem the decline of soil fertility in much of the developing world, and build up input and output markets in rural areas. Taken together, these broad initiatives offer a strong and viable approach to lifting millions from crushing poverty through creation of more sustainable rural and agricultural development. These proceedings contain, in condensed form, hundreds of thousands of research hours dedicated to developing crops that can help farmers withstand the destabilizing impact of drought in some of the most needy farm communities of Africa and Asia. Although we have not yet reached our full potential in this effort, exceptional progress is clearly being made, indeed it seems to be accelerating, and the pipeline of research and c llaboration is just beginning to deliver new varieties to the people who need them most. Specific examples of new varieties actually being delivered and utilized on large areas were reported from both southern Africa and eastern India, providing realistic “proof of concept” and motivating all concerned to redouble their efforts. The conference participants are to be commended for their exceptional work and information sharing at the workshop, as is the CIMMYT organizing committee, for the superb preparations and support for the meeting and this publication.

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Bibliographic Details
Main Authors: Poland, D., Sawkins, M.C., Ribaut, J.M., Hoisington, D.A.
Format: Conference Proceedings biblioteca
Published: CIMMYT 2004
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