"Nichts mehr davon, ich bitt euch. Zu essen gebt ihm, zu wohnen.
Habt ihr die Blöße bedeckt, gibt sich die Würde von selbst."
Friedrich Schiller
  May 2008 FOOD

USAID Budget-Slashing Hurts Green Revolution's CIMMYT Center in Mexico

The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico, known by its Spanish acronym CIMMYT, is in urgent need of funds, thanks to the insane budget-slashing carried out by the current head of USAID Henrietta Fore.

Fore, who will attend the Rome FAO meeting as part of the U.S. delegation, significantly cut the 2008 biotechnology budget for the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the entity responsible for CIMMYT's operations, and is expected to make even deeper cuts in the 2009 budget.

This is a travesty, the repercussions of which were explained by Thomas Lumpkin, CIMMYT's Director-General, in speaking to a group of visiting Central American and Caribbean Agriculture Ministers May 25. He urged the ministers to "redefine" their governments' relationship to CIMMYT, by considering direct financial support for the research "we do here aimed at increasing food production and agricultural productivity in Latin America."

Lumpkin noted that while attention is rightfully directed to Africa and Asia, with their large numbers of poor, the CIMMYT's work on improving crops such as corn, wheat, rice and potatoes is crucial for this region. One of its key missions, he said, is to aid poor farmers make the transition from subsistence to commercial agriculture, which can have positive ramifications in areas such as social justice, economic development and both national and international food security. As one example, he reported that CIMMYT has done extremely important research in producing new varieties of corn and wheat that are more resistant to high temperatures, plagues and other diseases. These improvements allow farmers to plant more crops, using less water and fertilizer.