Wheat Initiative (G20)

As part of a broad agreement to work to improve global food security, G20 agriculture ministers agreed in 2011 to launch a new International Research Initiative for Wheat Improvement (IRIWI) to coordinate research efforts internationally.

Primary objectives of the new Initiative are to:

  • provide a forum to encourage collaborations among major wheat programs, public and private;
  • facilitate open communication and exchange of germplasm and data under existing agreements;
  • support data sharing through publicly-available databases and data standards; and
  • press the financial needs of the wheat research community to key funding sources.

More than 100 members of the global wheat research community gathered in Paris, France, soon after the G20 declaration to begin coordinating the project. The United States, via the USDA, has joined the project, and USDA leaders and NAWG staff attended the kick-off meeting for the Initiative.

“The International Wheat Research Initiative provides a new opportunity to advance international wheat research cooperation,” said Dr. Kay Simmons, USDA-Agricultural Research Service deputy administrator for crop production and protection and a long-time wheat worker, who represented the USDA at the meeting.

“There are currently wheat research initiatives focused on disease protection including the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative and international work with CIMMYT, plus many national initiatives.

“However, international coordination and information sharing in wheat genetic resources, genomic strategies, agronomy and production, and wheat quality are lacking. This Initiative provides a mechanism for the international wheat community to coordinate and advance these research strategies for the first time.”

The G20 Initiative is yet another indication that the world’s political and business leaders are increasingly willing to tackle the challenge of dramatically growing demand for food.