Single crop programs

Farmer Showcasing Maize in a Crop Field: Mitchell Maher/IFPRI

Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP)
Maize (MAIZE)
Wheat (WHEAT)

Improved crop varieties for resilience

One of the most significant outputs of the crop-focused CRPs is the release of new varieties with improved characteristics. In 2015, 64 improved maize varieties were released through our partners globally, with increased yield and additional traits that included drought tolerance, nitrogen use efficiency, tar spot complex resistance, or improved amino acid profiles (Quality Protein Maize) and increased pro-vitamin A content. Some 73 CGIAR-derived lines of wheat were released in 20 major wheat producing nations and around 70 new lines of rice were released, or approved for release, by national systems.

CGIAR used molecular markers to select for genetic regions shown to influencemeasurable characteristics (called QTL) and identified one (qhir1) that is associated with the induction rate of haploid plants – which can be used to speed up breeding and selection. In rice, breakthroughs include identification of a large-effect QTL for rice yield under drought; a gene that enhances germination in rice under anaerobic conditions; and transgenic rice lines that increase iron and zinc in polished grains. In wheat, a disease-resistance gene, Lr67, was identified that slows disease development, and could potentially reduce grain losses and the need for costly fungicides. Lr67 is the third in a group of ‘magic’ genes that help wheat to resist all three rusts, as well as powdery mildew.

The CRPs started implementing high throughput genomic characterization or phenotyping for accelerating their breeding programs. We characterized 30,000 accessions from ICARDA’s Syrian genebank, and set up a collaboration between researchers from advanced research institutes and national agricultural research systems to develop unmanned aerial vehicles and sensors for affordable fieldbased phenotyping.

6,792 new rice lines taken up by researchers and breeders in Africa, South America and South Asia in 2015

Increased geographic reach

These crop-focused CRPs contribute to specific dimensions of sustainable agroecosystems. For example, the Nutrient Expert® tool, which CGIAR codeveloped with the International Plant Institute, has been recognized as a major climate-smart decision support system for optimizing nutrient use under climate change conditions. In India and Nepal, nearly 100,000 farmers have been reached. We also developed the first international standard for sustainable rice cultivation. This characterizes a rice system for its sustainability through 46 requirements concerning: farm management, pre-planting, water use, nutrient management, pest management, harvest and postharvest, health and safety, and labor rights.

Rice breeding lines and improved varieties were taken up by researchers and breeders in Africa (900 salt and submergence-tolerant lines), South America (972 lines) and South Asia (4,920 lines) through the Hybrid Rice Development Consortium. More than 183,000 tonnes of seed from improved rice varieties were distributed to farmers by our public and private partners in South Asia. We estimate that in South Asia, approximately 5.75 million ha are potentially covered by improved rice varieties through different key CGIAR projects. For maize, at least 30 new Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa (DTMA) varieties were released in 2015. We estimate that four DTMA varieties were cultivated on more than 100,000 ha each in Angola, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Zimbabwe, and that an overall estimated 2.3 million ha were planted with these varieties in target countries during 2015, with the potential to benefit 5.7 million households. Through the Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat (DRRW) project, 80 tonnes of Kingbird seed were made available for farm demonstrations and scaling up. These CRPs made a substantial contribution to the CGIAR food security SLO by facilitating increases in the availability of improved rice, maize and wheat varieties through their partnerships.