Updated: Apr 23
One international organization aims to modify the genetic yield potential of wheat to address the global grand challenge of food and nutritional security for the future.
The International Wheat Yield Partnership (IWYP) supports research in 14 countries worldwide, but its headquarters resides at Texas A&M University research park in College Station, Texas.
“The IWYP program is administered by Texas A&M AgriLife research and is supported by a grant from a set of international public research funders,” said Jeff Gwyn, Ph.D., Director of Program Development.
IWYP works closely with researchers around the world to increase the genetic yield potential of wheat for both developed and non-developed countries.
IWYP differs from other entities because of its integrative, collaborative approach. Their strategy encourages researchers to divide the work amongst themselves and work together to rapidly discover new traits that will significantly increase yields in agriculture fields globally.
“The goal of IWYP is to double the genetic gain in wheat breeding programs over the next 20 years,” Gwyn said. “That is roughly the level that will be necessary to meet the demand of wheat by the world in 2050.”
As with many businesses around the world, IWYP was forced to alter their approach during 2020 due to the fact they work with many different institutions globally.
“Technology has enabled IWYP to continue to make progress as planned,” Gwyn said. “Researchers all around the world have altered their processes to account for the restrictions that public health policies have required.”
While the changes in these processes allow progress to continue as planned, in-person collaboration and the ability to physically meet will still prove optimal for IWYP.
“Once the pandemic is over, being able to conduct face-to-face meetings and attending scientific conferences will be a welcome shift back to normality,” Gwyn said.
Although the challenge seems daunting, IWYP believes their organization is in a good position to push previous scientific practices past the business-as-usual approach.
“The exact number is not what is important, as much as pushing the boundaries of science to make breakthroughs, to do things faster and better than we have ever been able to,” Gwyn said. “If we only push yields up by 35% or 40%, are we a failure? Absolutely not. The goal is to push it above what has been possible to date.”