Mexico will be one of the countries most affected by climate change

The effects of climate change on crops place Mexico in the scenario of genetically improving corn seeds to make them more resistant to increasingly aggressive weather events.

Mexico will be one of the countries most affected by climate change
Mexico will be one of the countries most affected by climate change

This was stated to Efe the director of Strategic Innovation of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Bram Govaerts, estimating that the Latin American country and India will be the nations most affected by climate change in the coming decades, losing up to 20% of crops.

For his part, Terry Molnar, a specialist in native maize species at CIMMYT, told Efe that the center is focused on creating various breeding systems for resilient maize breeds to adverse effects of climate change, but also to "stains" of asphalt. "

This is the name given to the fungi Phyllachora maydis, Monographella maydis and Coniothyrium phyllachorae, which weaken the leaves of the ear by extracting the sugar from the corn and, in many cases, cause the death of the crops.

Climate change is causing a greater presence of insects such as weevils, as well as bacteria and other diseases that damage corn.

"They are appearing in ecosystems where they were not present before," he said, pointing out that they usually occur in the Mexican southeast, but that in recent years their presence has already been recorded in the north, in states such as Sonora or Sinaloa.

Hence, researchers continue their work to create improved corn variations that resist these threats.

But, in addition to genetic improvements, it is necessary to implement a sustainable agriculture system, Govaerts added.

"At a global level we are not working as we should on these issues, but there are great efforts such as Mexico," he said.

Likewise, he assured that "political declarations do not contain climate change", because it requires "an appropriate course and works in synergy with producers in the field".

According to the expert, 24,000 million tons of fertile land are lost globally due to a massive agricultural system that overexploits the land.

He indicated that "the human vision on the current systems of agriculture must be changed", providing "adequate tools" - from training to economic resources - to the farmers to practice sustainable agriculture.

An example of mismanagement in the crops is that of the southern state of Chiapas, which loses 40% of its crops in the post-harvest stage.

For the CIMMYT specialist, feeding the population is an essential aspect, because, without proper nutrition, it is impossible to think about meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

"An empty stomach prevents fulfill educational, health, environmental goals," he argued.

Since 2014, the number of undernourished people in the world has increased by 821 million, according to Govaerts.

He also indicated that "there is not a single country in the world that reaches 50% of its diet with the use of products originating in its territory."

This, he considered, makes "indispensable the impulse to an efficient and sustainable field".

CIMMYT, located in the municipality of Texcoco, about 30 kilometers from Mexico City, has a genetic resources center that has under custody 28,000 corn seeds and 150,000 wheat.

In order to adopt new farming schemes that include sustainable agriculture, Obed Camarillo, producer of the state of Guanajuato, told Efe that in this region of the country, old bad practices such as the burning of soils have been disappearing little by little.

Today, he said, sowing with the remains of previous crops used as natural fertilizer has allowed him to grow in productivity and have savings of up to 6,000 pesos ($ 315).

"It is more difficult to change the peasant producer's mentality to make seeds grow," he concluded.