It’s exactly a month today since we visited the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, known by it’s Spanish acronym CIMMIT in the Yaqui Valley in Mexico.
If you desire peace, cultivate justice, but at the same time cultivate the fields to produce more bread; otherwise there will be no peace. – Norman Borlaug
It was a humbling thing to visit the Yaqui Valley in Mexico where Dr Norman Borlaug plied his trade as a wheat breeder. I know, your eyes are starting to glaze over already. But before you switch off in boredom you should consider that there’s a good chance that you or someone very dear to you is only here because of the work that Dr Borlaug did in Mexico.
A Nobel Laureate, Borlaug is considered the father of the green revolution. His work as a wheat breeder revolutionised agriculture globally and allowed for the huge population increases seen around the world in the 20th century. I can do what I do because he did what he did.
The research site at CIMMIT is quite fascinating. Like the San Joaqin valley in California, the Yaqui Valley is very much an irrigated desert. This allows the scientists there to recreate the climatic conditions of nearly all the major wheat growing areas on earth and definitely all the areas where its toughest to do so. The research facilities at CIMMIT are world class and the origin of 70% of all spring wheat varieties globally. It was also interesting to see them using the latest in data collection techniques to monitor their trials.
We were there on the 101st birthday of the late Dr. Borlaug. To discover that the goal of CIMMIT is still to improve the lives of farmers in the developing world was humbling. That this research also benefits those of us farming in the first world shows that food does connect us all.