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Syngenta Foundation announces partnership to develop drought-tolerant maize for smallholder farmers in Asia 

Basel, Switzerland, December 14, 2010  

  • Partnership with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center and Syngenta
  • Launch of “Affordable, Accessible Maize for Asia” project to support smallholder farmers

The Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (the Foundation) today announced a partnership with Syngenta and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) to develop drought-tolerant maize for smallholder farmers in Asia. Called “Affordable, Accessible Maize for Asia”, the five-year program will support smallholder farmers in Asia who lack access to irrigation, with the aim to grow more food and better provide for their families.

Drought-tolerant African maize developed by CIMMYT will be crossed with Syngenta varieties bred for Asia, applying Syngenta’s genetic mapping technology to speed and refine the selection of high-yielding, drought-tolerant maize varieties. Both organizations will contribute valuable expertise in breeding crops for enhanced drought tolerance to the project. Seed varieties and information generated will be made available for use by local seed companies and public crop breeding programs throughout South and Southeast Asia.

“Drought poses a huge threat to farming in Asia,” explained Peter Pickering, Head of Syngenta Seeds for the Asia-Pacific region. “Groundwater levels are falling in major agricultural areas, and climate change is likely to make the problem even worse. Technology and collaborations play an important role in addressing these challenges. This new project should significantly increase smallholders’ ability to achieve good maize yields despite frequent shortages of water.”

CIMMYT Director General Thomas A. Lumpkin said: “Our joint aim is to produce an affordable hybrid that enables small Asian farmers to grow about twice as much maize on the same amount of land. This will benefit the 80% of the region’s farmers who grow the crop under rainfed and often drought-affected conditions. This project has the potential to have a dramatic impact on addressing the hunger and poverty issues in the region.”

By supporting this partnership between Syngenta and CIMMYT, the Foundation aims to help Asian smallholder farmers to grow a key crop more sustainably. “Access to affordable drought-tolerant, high-yielding new varieties remains a pressing need in developing countries”, emphasized Marco Ferroni, the Foundation’s Executive Director. “There are only very few public-private partnerships in this area so far. Independent organizations like the Foundation play a crucial role in creating partnerships that help resource-poor farmers increase their productivity in an environmentally sustainable manner.”

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About the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture

The Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture is a not-for-profit organization that focuses on supporting the productivity of small-scale farmers in developing countries around the world. Further information is available on


The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, known by its Spanish acronym, CIMMYT (, is a not-for-profit research and training organization with partners in over 100 countries. The center works to sustainably increase the productivity of maize and wheat systems and thus ensure global food security and reduce poverty. The center's outputs and services include improved maize and wheat varieties and cropping systems, the conservation of maize and wheat genetic resources, and capacity building.

About Syngenta

Syngenta is one of the world's leading companies with more than 25,000 employees in over 90 countries dedicated to our purpose: Bringing plant potential to life. Through world-class science, global reach and commitment to our customers we help to increase crop productivity, protect the environment and improve health and quality of life.  For more information about us please go to

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