Funds needed to improve wheat research

By Shawna Rowe

CIUDAD OBREGON, Mexico — Hans Braun, director of the Global Wheat Program at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), stressed the need to increase yield gains in wheat for global food security at the Borlaug 100 Summit.

As a scientist at CIMMYT, Braun has conducted research and collected data across the globe. His results have shown that if wheat gains continue at their current rate the world will face a 100-300 million ton shortage by 2050.

“The challenge for agronomy is the ability to exploit the potential of the varieties,” said Braun. “Having terrible growing environments is inefficient.”

Hans Braun speaking at the CIMMYT field station. Photo by Shawna Rowe.

Hans Braun speaking at the CIMMYT field station. Photo by Shawna Rowe.

Many countries that rely on wheat are the ones most effected by extreme heat and drought. These problems are being amplified by climate change, according to Braun. A rise in temperature of 2 degrees Celsius results in a yield loss of over 4,000 pounds per and acre.

Nearly every wheat growing country has benefited from the wheat varieties developed in Mexico. Wheat has long been critical in the fight against hunger. Despite this, Braun spoke about how the lessons of the past have not provided insurance for the future. Currently, wheat is one of the lowest funded research crops and though wheat yields are increasing, it isn’t happening fast enough, Braun said.

Although funding for wheat is still scarce, Braun said that he is optimistic for the future of the research.

“The world community can respond to these threats but it needs to be supported by global investments,” he said. “It’s not too late to make a big change.”

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