Corn in the developing world and the international maize and wheat improvement center
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Native to Mesoamerica, corn has spread worldwide and is grown over a larger geographical range than any other cereal and in a greater variety of ecological niches. In developing countries the crop is cultivated in lowland tropical, subtropical, midaltitude, and highland environments. It is a staple food in Latin America and many countries of Africa, and is used in animal feed and fodder throughout the developing world. Growth in developing-country corn production has increased steadily since 1951, although more slowly than demand. World prices are below the long-term average and falling. As a result of rising populations and growth in income, the demand for corn in developing countries is expected to increase at more than 2.5% annually for the remainder of this decade and at an even higher rate in subsequent years. The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) is a nonprofit research and training organization that works with the agricultural research systems of some 100 countries in the developing world to increase the productivity of resources committed to corn and wheat there, while protecting natural resources. In the case of corn, since 1966 this collaborative effort has resulted in the spread of improved varieties and hybrids to about 8 million hectares, or half the area planted to improved varieties from the public sector in developing countries (excluding temperate zones). The research agenda of CIMMYT's Maize Program includes breeding for host plant resistance to important constraints of corn in the developing world, the conservation and utilization of corn genetic resources, and crop and natural resource management. In addition, the program offers germplasm and technical support for national programs or private companies that conduct research on quality protein corn.
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