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 Development Economics Group at Wageningen University (WUR, the Netherlands), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT, Mexico) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI, USA) are searching for
From left to right: Patti Petesch, Diana Lopez, Paula Kantor, Vongai Kandiwa, Dina Najjar, Lone Badstue, Anuprita Shukla and Amare Tegbaru. Photo: Xochiquetzal Fonseca/CIMMYT
MAIZE and WHEAT CRP investigators from the global cross-CRP study on gender in agricultural innovation met at CIMMYT headquarters in El Batán, Mexico from 26 Feb to 1 March to take stock of progress so far and plan the next steps in the implementation of this unique research initiative.
Agricultural research is changing. In order to have a greater impact, research must be relevant to a greater variety of farmers in different contexts, while being both applicable and adaptable.
Ways must also be found to solve institutional constraints, which are very often beyond the researchers’ sphere of control. Policies can be changed to allow community seed production, better connections established between maize producers and traders, extension systems strengthened or willing agro-dealers found to commercialize new seeds.