Partnership seeks to boost wheat yields by 50%

by Jeff Gelski
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CIUDAD OBREGÓN, MEXICO — The newly formed International Wheat Yield Partnership aims to increase wheat yields by 50% by 2034 by bringing together research funders, international aid agencies, foundations, companies and wheat research organizations. The partnership was launched at the Borlaug Summit on Wheat for Food Security held March 25-28 in Ciudad Obregón.

The World Bank estimates global wheat production, to meet rising demand, will need to increase by 60% between 2000 and 2050. It is estimated the world’s population will reach 9.6 billion by 2050. Wheat yield increases in developed nations have slowed since 1990.

The I.W.Y.P. will seek to stimulate new research, amplify the output from existing programs and make scientific discoveries available to farmers in developing and developed nations. Groups that initiated the partnership include the United States Agency for International Development (USAID); the United Kingdom’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (B.B.S.R.C.); the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center; and the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food of Mexico.

“By working together, I.W.Y.P. members will enable scientific breakthroughs that are out of reach via existing mechanisms,” said Steve Visscher, chair of the I.W.Y.P. board of founding partners and deputy chief executive of the B.B.S.R.C. “One focus of the I.W.Y.P. will be to improve the wheat’s use of the sun’s energy. Other important crops, like maize, are much more efficient at turning sunlight’s energy into food.”

The I.W.Y.P. will provide benefits to companies in the private sector that engage in the partnership. The I.W.Y.P. wants to secure up to $100 million over the next five years from founders and donors worldwide.

“Working together, through dynamic partnerships like this one, is what makes poverty and hunger solvable,” said Tjada McKenna, acting assistant to the administrator for the USAID Bureau for Food Security. “The U.S. government is pleased to support this research aimed at increasing wheat production and resilience.”

The Borlaug Summit on Wheat for Food Security took place in honor of the 100th birthday of Dr. Norman Borlaug, a Nobel Peace Prize winner.
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