Posts Tagged ‘Mexico’

Blue maize is all the rage, but are consumers willing to pay?

By Jennifer Johnson

Freshly made blue maize tortillas in a market in Texcoco, Mexico. Photo: Carolyn Cowan.

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.

2019 MAIZE Youth Innovators Awards – Latin America Winners Announced

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, following Asia 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.

Tracing maize landraces, 50 years later

by Carolyn Cowan

Scientists 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.

Doctoral candidate Denisse McLean-Rodríguez (left) interviews maize farmer Roque Juarez Ramirez at his family home in Morelos to explore his opinions on landrace conservation. (Photo: E. Orchardson/CIMMYT)

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.