Last week I was in Mexico City, where I had the opportunity to spend two days learning about innovation in agriculture with some of the best scientists in the world, and a good partner of ours, Carlos Slim.
On my first day in Mexico, I learned about the work International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (known by its acronym in Spanish, CIMMYT) is doing in conservation and precision agriculture. The lead scientist in the program Dr. Bram Govaerts, meets with farmers, extension and scientists at innovation hubs to test new crop management practices to improve the profits and natural resources of farm land.
Seeds of Discovery is one of CIMMYT’s exciting new programs, led by Director General Dr. Tom Lumpkin, could also be one of the most innovative programs in genetic research, as it seeks to map out the millions of markers in maize and wheat varieties, to make it possible for plant breeders to find new and improved seeds for farmers all around the world.
It is partnership that brought me to Mexico in the first place. I had already been lucky enough to work with Carlos Slim a few years ago, when we partnered on the MesoAmerican Health Initiative to help reduce maternal and child mortality in Central America. This time Carlos wanted to invest his time and resources into agriculture, to benefit farmers and their families across Mexico and the world.
Carlos also talked about the role his organization could play in connecting farmer organizations and institutes to a coordinated network to ensure the extension systems created under MasAgro can reach and benefit as many farmers as possible across Mexico.
The Slim Foundation announced their funding of $25m to CIMMYT to a packed crowd of international media and delegates. Carlos, Dr. Lumpkin, and I, and representatives from the Mexican state and national government, cut the ribbon and officially opened the new world-class facilities that Carlos’ funds created. In doing so, we opened the door for a new generation of scientists to explore and expand the innovation of agricultural research.