Posts Tagged ‘Mexico’

Machine learning for smarter seed selection to reduce risks for Mexican maize farmers

A Mexican farming family poses beside their maize harvest in Campeche, Mexico. Machine learning for smarter seed selection will help farmers get the right seed for their geograhic area, increasing yields. Photo: Peter Lowe/CIMMYT.

The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and BioSense Institute jointly won the CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture Inspire Challenge in 2018 for machine learning for smarter seed selection. This project, which is piloted with maize farmers in Mexico, will help ensure that farmers are getting the best seed variety possible for their farm, allowing them to reduce risk, save money and improve their yields and food security.

Preserving native maize and culture in Mexico

By: Matthew O’Leary

Felipa Martinez shows off some of her family’s maize from last year’s harvest. Photo: Matthew O’Leary

Felipa Martinez, an indigenous Mexican grandmother, grins as she shows off a bag bulging with maize cobs saved from last harvest season. With her family, she managed to farm enough maize for the year despite the increasing pressure brought by climate change.

Felipa’s grin shows satisfaction. Her main concern is her family, the healthy harvest lets her feed them without worry and sell the little left over to cover utilities.

“When our crops produce a good harvest I am happy because we don’t have to spend our money on food. We can make our own tortillas and tostadas,” she said.

Her family belongs to the Chatino indigenous community and lives in the small town of Santiago Yaitepec in humid southern Oaxaca. They are from one of eleven marginalized indigenous communities throughout the state involved in a participatory breeding project with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT) to naturally improve the quality and preserve the biodiversity of native maize.

These indigenous farmers are custodians of maize biodiversity, growing seeds passed down over generations. Their maize varieties represent a portion of the diversity of the 59 native Mexican races of maize, or landraces, which first developed from wild grasses at the hands of their ancestors. These different races (or types) of maize diversified through generations of selective breeding, adapting to the environment, climate and cultural needs of the different communities.

New GENNOVATE videos highlight changing gender norms in agriculture

Just in time for International Women’s Day, a series of videos have been published by the GENNOVATE initiative to raise awareness about and explore the interlinkages between gender norms, agency, and innovation in agriculture and natural resource management.  The videos include stories of men and women from Mexico, Tanzania, and Nepal from the perspectives of local women and men themselves.

Helping farming families thrive while fighting climate change in Mexico

Women and youth help lead efforts to adopt climate-friendly farming and safeguard indigenous maize yields

Farmers walk through a field that has been cleared by slash and burn agriculture in the Yucatan peninsula. Photo: Maria Boa/ CIMMYT

The Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico has been hard hit by drought and extreme weather events related to climate change in recent years, exacerbating local poverty and food insecurity. In addition, slash-and-burn agriculture techniques have led to environmental degradation and contribute to climate change. The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) is working to help indigenous Mayan farming families in the Yucatan peninsula adapt to and mitigate climate change, increasing maize yields and food security while minimizing negative environmental impact. This comes as world leaders mull a crucial decision on agriculture at the UN Climate talks in Bonn, a decision that could support farmers everywhere to take similar actions.