By Mohammed Kandi, with agency report
An international partnership aimed at boosting wheat yields by 50 percent by 2034, has been launched.
The new International Wheat Yield Partnership (IWYP) was launched recently at the Borlaug Summit on Wheat for Food Security in Ciudad Obregón, Mexico.
The Summit brought together research funders, international aid agencies, foundations, companies and major wheat research organizations, to address demand for wheat – one of the world’s most important crops – that is growing much faster than production.
The Summit also marked the 100th birthday of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Dr. Norman Borlaug, credited with sparking the agricultural ‘Green Revolution’ of the 1960’s and helping to save over one billion people from starvation.
In his remarks at the event, Steve Visscher, Chair of the IWYP board of founding partners and UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Deputy Chief Executive said: “We need a collective global approach to make more wheat available. It is the most widely grown staple food crop and new varieties with increased yield will be vital to feed the world’s growing population.”
“By working together, IWYP members will enable scientific breakthroughs that are out of reach via existing mechanisms,” added Visscher. “One focus of IWYP will be to improve wheat’s use of the sun’s energy. Other important crops, like maize, are much more efficient at turning sunlight’s energy into food.”
However, the partnership’s initiators include by the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food of Mexico (SAGARPA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), as the lead implementer of the United States Feed the Future initiative. They will work together with a growing number of private and public funders from across the world.
The world’s population is estimated to reach 9.6 billion by 2050 and wheat production will have a crucial role in food security and the global economy. The World Bank estimates that global wheat production will have to increase by 60 percent between 2000 and 2050 to meet rising demand. However wheat yield increases in developed nations have slowed since 1990. Politically destabilising wheat price spikes seen in 2007-8 and 2011 are likely to be repeated if wheat production falls short of demand.