track down the families in Morelos, Mexico, who donated maize landraces to
CIMMYT in 1966-67. Would they still be cultivating them?
Maize is more than a crop in Mexico. While it provides food,
feed and raw materials, it is also a bloodline running through the generations,
connecting Mexico’s people with their past.
The fascinating diversity of maize in Mexico is rooted in
its cultural and biological legacy as the center of origin of maize. Landraces,
which are maize varieties that have been cultivated and subjected to selection
by farmers for generations, retaining a
distinct identity and lacking formal crop improvement, provide the
basis of this diversity.
As with any cultural legacy, the cultivation of maize
landraces can be lost with the passage of time as farmers adapt to changing
markets and generational shifts take place.
Doctoral candidate Denisse McLean-Rodríguez, from the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Italy, and researchers from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) have undertaken a new study that traces the conservation and abandonment of maize landraces over the last 50 years in Morelos, Mexico’s second smallest state.
The study is based on a collection of 93 maize landrace
samples, collected by Ángel Kato as a research assistant back in 1966-67 and
stored in CIMMYT’s Maize Germplasm Bank. Researchers traced the 66 families in
Morelos who donated the samples and explored the reasons why they abandoned or
conserved their landraces.
CIMMYT maize germplasm bank staff preparing the order for the repatriation of Guatemalan seed varieties. Photo: CIMMYT
in Guatemala, which aims to enhance the sustainability of maize systems in the country. Denise Costich, head of the maize germplasm bank, received the award on behalf of CIMMYT during the event ‘Maize of Guatemala: Repatriation, Conservation and Sustainable use of Agro-biodiversity,’ held on September 7 2018, in Guatemala City.
A farmer dries maize on his rooftop in Zimbabwe. CIMMYT/ F. Sipalla
By Julie Mollins
A comprehensive study of genetic gains resulting from long term breeding work on improved hybrids and open-pollinated varieties (OPVs) in eastern and southern Africa shows that with appropriate funding, maize yields can continue to increase in extreme heat and drought conditions.
The world faces the challenge of growing more maize, responsibly and sustainably. Development of high yielding maize varieties resistant to different biotic and abiotic stresses quickly and efficiently is the need of the hour. Use of new tools and technologies is critical in achieving rapid progress in development of improved maize germplasm.