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FFAR provides $5 million to pioneer heat-tolerant, drought-resistant, climate-resilient wheat

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Wheat is one of the most important staple crops for both humans and livestock alike. In fact, according to the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), more than 539 million acres of wheat are cultivated worldwide and the crop accounts for one-fifth of the world’s food supply. Additionally, the center notes wheat is a main source of protein in many countries, second only to rice as a source of calories globally.

However, research from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has shown changes in temperature, atmospheric carbon dioxide and a growing frequency of extreme weather conditions could threaten the global wheat supply.

To address this threat, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded a $5 million grant to CIMMYT to develop climate-resilient wheat. 


            CIMMYT is a leading global research nonprofit focused on improving maize and wheat cropping systems to improve human livelihood.

            “Wheat is among the most widely grown cereal crop in the world and the third-largest crop grown in the U.S. by acre,” reads CIMMYT’s website, which further notes nearly all U.S. wheat crops are improved and supported through public research.

            The website further explains since most wheat in the U.S. is dependent on rainfall versus irrigation methods, this research is critical for helping plants and producers navigate climate changes.

            Additionally, according to CIMMYT, future wheat demand is expected to rise nearly 60 percent by 2050 due to the growing population.

            “Without public research, wheat production could decrease by nearly 30 percent over the same period because of changing climate conditions,” explains CIMMYT. 

            FFAR has also pledged their commitment to improving the global wheat supply.

            “FFAR leverages public agriculture research funding through public and private partnerships to pioneer actionable research,” explains FFAR’s Executive Director Sally Rockey. “With temperatures on the rise and water becoming scarcer, we are committed to supporting wheat farmers and providing new wheat varieties designed with future environmental challenges in mind.”

            With FFAR’s generous $5 million grant, which was matched by a $4.5 million contribution from the CGIAR Research Program on Wheat and a $7.5 million contribution from Accelerating Genetic Gains for Maize and Wheat, researchers at CIMMYT will work to pioneer wheat breeding technologies to produce heat-tolerant, drought-resistant and climate-resilient wheat.

A cutting-edge approach

            CIMMYT explains their research will be conducted by applying cutting-edge approaches in genomics, remote sensing and big data analysis to develop this new breeding technology. 

            The center also notes the particular research will be conducted under the Heat and Drought Wheat Improvement Consortium, a project designed to ensure the long-term climate resilience of wheat and led by CIMMYT in partnership with experts around the globe. 

            “This project will help bridge a long-standing gap between state-of-the-art technological findings and crop improvement to deliver climate-resilient wheat to farmers as quickly as possible,” says Matthew Reynolds, head of wheat physiology at CIMMYT and principal investigator for the project. 

“Heat, drought and wheat are three of the most important words for billions of people,” adds CIMMYT’s Interim Deputy Director for Research Kevin Pixley. “This partnership between the center and FFAR will help ensure the best agricultural science is applied to sustainably raise production of one of the world’s most important staple crops, despite unprecedented challenges.”

Hannah Bugas is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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