Closing the yield gap: Why localized analysis matters

The effect of factors limiting production differs across regions, researchers observe.

By Nele Verhulst

General view of the experimental field in Lempira, Honduras. (Photo: Nele Verhulst/CIMMYT)

Populations in Central America are rising rapidly, but staple crop production seems unable to keep up with increasing food demands.

Maize yields are particularly low compared to other regions. Cumulatively, farmers in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua produce maize on nearly 2.5 million hectares, with a large proportion of these maize systems also including beans, either through relay cropping or intercropping. Though potential yields are estimated to be as high as 10 metric tons per hectare, average production remains low at around 2.28.

Fight against fall armyworm in Asia benefits from experience in other regions

Scientists mobilize African and Latin American knowledge to protect Asia’s maize.

By Vanessa Meadu

When the destructive fall armyworm arrived in Asia in the summer of 2018, scientists were not taken by surprise. They had been anticipating its arrival on the continent as the next stage of its aggressive eastward journey, driven by changing climatic conditions and international trade routes. The pest, native to North and South America, had invaded and spread throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa within two years, severely damaging billions of dollars of maize crops and threatening food security for millions of people. Asian countries would have to mobilize quickly to cope with this new threat.

Young innovator Carlos Barragan García is implementing sustainable maize systems for smallholder farmers

Carlos Barragan García works on soil fertility as well as inclusive business models for smallholder farmers working in maize agri-food value chains. He has a degree in agroecological engineering from Chapingo Autonomous University and collaborates with the MasAgro project in Mexico’s state of Oaxaca. Barragan was recently awarded the MAIZE Youth Innovators Award 2019 – Latin America in the category of change agent for his involvement in this work.

The awards, an initiative of the CGIAR Research Program on Maize (MAIZE), seek to recognize the contributions of young women and men who are implementing innovations in Latin American maize-based agri-food systems. This is the third instalment of the awards, following Asia in October 2018 and Africa in May 2019. The awards ceremony took place at the 23rd Latin American Maize Reunion in Monteria, Colombia on October 9, 2019.

Carlos Barragan García, center, receives the MAIZE Youth Innovators Award 2019 – Latin America from CIMMYT Maize scientists Luis Narro (left) and Felix San Vicente (right). Photo: Carlos Alfonso Cortes Arredondo/CIMMYT.

Yésica Chazarreta studies how later planting dates affect maize production in Argentina

Yésica Chazarreta investigates how later planting dates affect the maize production of farmers in Argentina’s main maize growing region. The young researcher is working with the Crop Ecophysiology group at the National Agricultural Technology Institute (INTA) Pergamino in Buenos Aires, Argentina, conducting research on maize grain drying, filling and quality in order to help farmers make more informed decisions on when to harvest in order to increase their yields. Yésica recently received the MAIZE Youth Innovators Award 2019 – Latin America in the category of Researcher for her involvement in this work.

The awards, an initiative of the CGIAR Research Program on Maize (MAIZE), seek to recognize the contributions of young women and men who are implementing innovations in Latin American maize-based agri-food systems. This is the third instalment of the awards, following Asia in October 2018 and Africa in May 2019. The awards ceremony took place at the 23rd Latin American Maize Reunion in Monteria, Colombia on October 9, 2019.

Yésica Chazarreta, center, receives the MAIZE Youth Innovators Award 2019 – Latin America from CIMMYT Maize scientists Luis Narro (left) and Felix San Vicente (right). Photo: Carlos Alfonso Cortes Arredondo/CIMMYT.