Step into supermarkets or restaurants in many parts of
Mexico City and surrounding towns and you might see products made from blue
maize – products which would not have been available just a few years ago. From
blue corn chips to maize-based Mexican dishes such as blue tortillas and blue tamales,
a beloved staple crop has taken on a new hue. But should breeders, millers,
processors or farmer organizations invest in expanding the production of blue
maize and blue maize products? Are consumers really interested, and are they
willing to pay more?
These are some of the questions asked by researchers at the
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico. They set
up a choice experiment study on blue maize tortillas to test consumer
preferences and willingness to pay for this product.
The CGIAR Research Program on
Maize (MAIZE) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2019 MAIZE Youth
Innovators Awards – Latin America. This is the third instalment of the awards,
in October 2018 and Africa
in May 2019. These awards recognize the contributions of young women and men
under 35 who are implementing innovations in Latin American maize-based
agri-food systems, including research-for-development, seed systems,
agribusiness, and sustainable intensification.
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.