CGIAR research shows improved global wheat yields

Recently released research showed that nearly two-thirds of the area sown to improve wheat worldwide has been developed using CGIAR (the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research) breeding lines.

The financial benefits in added grain realized using CGIAR range from $2.8 billion to $3.8 billion annually -- a high return considering there was public funding of only $30 million.

Growing obstacles facing the wheat food security and wheat farm livelihoods make securing consistent funding crucial. Reseacrch and development activities conducted by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) have been responsible for much of the positive impact.

Since 1994, farmers across the world have had access to 4,604 improved wheat varieties due to the efforts of CIMMYT and ICARDA wheat lines. More than a quarter of all wheat varieties and 40 percent of all spring wheat varieties released in this century contain CIMMYT germplasm.

The research also revealed that elite wheat lines from CIMMYT or ICARDA are useful for most wheat improvement programs worldwide, and that their use saves a decade or more of cross-breeding for those programs. In addition to leading the world's largest publicly funded wheat improvement networks, CIMMYT and ICARDA oversee partnerships and research on productive and sustainable cropping practices.

The new study also showed that international collaboration on wheat research continues to provide significant returns on investments. By 2050, it is estimated the world's population will grow by 33 percent. It will be imperative for wheat farmers to meet increasing demands from the same or less land area while also dealing with extreme and erratic rainfall and temperatures.

As of 2015, CIMMYT and ICARDA have agreed to operate their wheat research as a single joint program.

Funded through the CGIAR Wheat Research Program, the study is based on a survey sent to 94 countries that produce at least 5,000 tons of wheat each year. Responses came from 66 wheat-growing countries, including 44 developing countries that account for nearly all of the developing world's wheat output.

Organizations in this story

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center Carretera México-Veracruz El Batán, Texcoco CP 56237

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