U.S. research effort aims to lift global wheat yields

by Josh Sosland
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U.S.D.A. program part of International Wheat Yield Partnership Program.

WASHINGTON — The development of new wheat varieties adaptable to different geographic regions and environmental conditions globally is the objective behind a research partnership announced Dec. 14 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In connection with the new International Wheat Yield Partnership program, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the availability of $3.4 million to fund I.W.Y.P. research projects.

“Wheat is one of the world’s most important staple crops, providing a significant amount of daily calories and protein throughout the world,” Mr. Vilsack said. “By 2050, the demand for wheat as part of a reliable, affordable, and nutritious diet will grow alongside the world population, and continued wheat research will play an important role in ensuring its continued availability.”

Grants will be awarded through the U.S.D.A. National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), authorized under the Agricultural Act of 2014.

The I.W.Y.P. is meant to be supportive of the G20 nations’ Wheat Initiative, which the U.S.D.A. said is targeted at “enhancing the genetic component of wheat yield and developing new wheat varieties.”

Along with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and U.S.D.A. Agricultural Research Service (A.R.S.), international partners involved with I.W.Y.P. include the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council of the United Kingdom; Grains Research and Development Corporation of Australia; Department of Biotechnology of India; from Mexico, the Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maíz y Trigo (CIMMYT); Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; from France, the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique; and from Switzerland, the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture.

AFRI was established under the 2008 farm bill and is described by the U.S.D.A. as the “flagship competitive grants program” of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education, and extension and seeks to make transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges.

Regarding AFRI, the U.S.D.A. continued, “The program addresses six priority areas to continue building a foundation of knowledge in fundamental and applied food and agricultural sciences critical for solving current and future societal challenges. These priority areas include 1) plant health and production and plant products; 2) animal health and production and animal products; 3) food safety, nutrition and health; renewable energy, natural resources and environment; 5) agriculture systems and technology; and 6) agriculture economics and rural communities.”

More information about AFRI and other funding opportunities are available on the NIFA web site.
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