New partnership hopes to increase wheat yields 50% by 2034

Richard Flavell, founding member of IWYP, answers questions after a presentation on the new partnership. Flavell and other members hope to significantly increase wheat yields by 2034. Photo by Kathryn Ingerslew

Richard Flavell, founding member of IWYP, answers questions after a presentation on the new partnership. Flavell and other members hope to significantly increase wheat yields by 2034. Photo by Kathryn Ingerslew

By Meghan Eldridge

CIUDAD OBREGON, Mexico — A new research and funding partnership plans to increase global wheat yields 50 percent by 2034.

The partnership, called the International Wheat Yield Partnership, or IWYP, was launched Friday during a presentation at the close of the Borlaug Summit on Wheat for Food Security. More than 700 people from more than 64 countries attended the summit.

The IWYP brings together wheat geneticists, international aid agencies, private sector companies and farmers to achieve a long-term goal of increasing yields in one of the world’s most vital crops in the fight against food insecurity.

The partnership plans to fund its goals by raising $100 million over the next five years from donors and funders worldwide. The group has already received significant pledges toward that goal.

The IWYP will combine some of the leading scientists to share genetic resources like wheat germplasm, data and ideas to increase yields, said Nora Lapita, founding member of the IWYP, during the presentation.

The partnership hopes to increase wheat yields by 160 million tons a year, which would produce $50 billion to $100 billion in additional annual income for some of the world’s poorest farmers, she said.

More than increasing yields, the primary goal is to further Norman Borlaug’s hope of getting research advances into farmers’ hands quickly, Lapita said.

“All of this only makes sense when farmers can increase their yields and have more grain in their bags,” said Hans-Joachim Braun, founding member of the partnership and director of the Global Wheat Program of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, CIMMYT.

The IWYP was founded through the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council; CIMMYT; Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food of Mexico; and United States Agency for International Development.

Agricultural companies, wheat research programs and private companies are invited to become members of the partnership. DuPont Pioneer, Syngenta and Bayer Cropscience are among the companies that have already applied for membership.

The IWYP acknowledges they’ve set a lofty goal for the future.

“It is truly an ambitious goal, but it’s a goal that is worthy of our time and investment,” Lapita said.

Kathryn Ingerslew contributed reporting.

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