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Impact of Monsanto's Beachell-Borlaug International Scholars Program

Monsanto, through the MBBIScholars Program, has invested $13 million over an 8 year period for training rice and wheat breeders from around the World. The Judging Panel for MBBISP selected 89 Scholars from 432 applicants. The selected scholars were from 30 different countries. Scholars selected included 35 young ladies and 54 young men, 37 are in rice breeding and 52 in wheat breeding. Currently 28 Scholars are still completing their PhD programs (As of 8/8/2017). This past year Monsanto established the "Ted Crosbie Monsanto Beachell-Borlaug International Scholars Impact Award" to begin recognizing Scholar contributions. To be eligible for the "Ted Crosbie MBBIScholars Impact Award," scholars must have received their PhD and must apply for the award. Bhoja Basnet, selected as an MBBIScholar in 2009 who is now in charge of CIMMYT's Hybrid Wheat Breeding program, was selected to receive the "Ted Crosbie Monsanto Beachell-Borlaug Scholars Program Impact Award" this year. Scholar contributions are in wheat and rice breeding as well as in other crops. Hopefully the Ted Crosbie MBBIScholars Impact Award will continue to recognize accomplishments of Scholars into the future. MBBIScholars are making an impact and we look forward to recognize their career contributions. Employment of Scholars post PhD will be reviewed.

AgriLife Research, Texas A&M University
David Baltensperger
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The University of Minnesota Stakman-Borlaug Center (SBC) for Sustainable Plant Health: Ongoing support for rust research and education

The Stakman-Borlaug Center (SBC) for Sustainable Plant Health at the University of Minnesota builds upon the vision and contributions of the preeminent crop scientists E.C. Stakman and Norman Borlaug. Recognizing that the toughest problems in agriculture today require highly diverse approaches, the SBC leverages multidisciplinary expertise to address plant health issues that impact food security and ecosystem health through research and education. The focus of SBC activities is local, national, and international; the impact of the SBC is global. The SBC maintains and manages a diverse plant health research portfolio and leads multidisciplinary research initiatives, student training programs, and capacity building efforts. Current rust research-related activities include organizing and fostering the international oat rust community to investigate diseases such as crown rust and stem rust. By advocating for oat rust research funding at the institutional, national, and international levels and leveraging expertise in genomics, phenomics and informatics, the SBC aims to identify novel forms of rust resistance in wild oat relatives and non-hosts. The SBC also plays supporting and project management roles in other cereal rust research and capacity building efforts led by scientists at the University of Minnesota and USDA-ARS Cereal Disease Laboratory, including a project aimed at characterizing Pgt isolates with unique virulences from Ethiopia and a 6-week summer training program for rust researchers. The complete SBC research, education, and capacity building portfolio can be found at

Department of Plant Pathology, University of Minnesota, USA
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Training agricultural scientists for a more globalized world: Monsanto’s Beachell-Borlaug International Scholars Program after 7 years

Monsanto’s Beachell-Borlaug International Scholars (MBBIScholars) Program was established on March 25, 2009, on Dr. Norman Borlaug’s 95th birthday. Monsanto initially funded the program for $10 MM ($2 MM per year for 5 years) and extended the program with a second grant for $3 MM ($1 MM per year for 3 years). As of February 2015 (6 years of funding) the program has supported 70 students. The 70 MBBIScholars were selected from 359 applications.  MBBIScholars are from 25 countries with India having 20 scholars. MBBIScholars from other countries are – Argentina 3, Bangladesh 2, Brazil 2, China 4, Columbia 4, Ecuador 1, Egypt 1, England 1, Ethiopia 4, Kenya 2, Korea 2, Iran 3, Italy 1, Mali 1, Nepal 2, Pakistan 1, Philippines 1, Syria 2, Tajikistan 1, Thailand 1, Tunisia 1, USA 4, and Uruguay 2. Forty scholars studied wheat breeding and 30 studied rice breeding. Twenty seven scholars were ladies. Applications for the 7th round were due on or before February 1, 2015. A unique feature of the MBBIScholars Program is the requirement that scholars must complete part of their PhD program in both developed and developing/transition countries. Scholars have worked with developed country scientists as follows – Australia 4, Canada 3, USA 43, and Western Europe 20. The program pays for the MBBIScholars to participate in a 3 day Leadership course prior to attending the World Food Prize during their first 2 years. It has been a good experience to see MBBIScholars gain self-confidence after attending the Leadership Course and World Food Prize, and as they study and conduct research in developed and developing/transition countries. They also gain many lifelong contacts in the plant breeding community. Based on the current funding agreement with Monsanto, the final round of MBBIScholars will be selected from applications due February 1, 2016. In view of the great success of this model of training international plant breeders, it would be highly desirable for donors to support and extend this PhD training program to include additional crops of interest in developed and developing countries.

Program Director and Judging Panel Chair, Texas A&M University, USA
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Research for development (R4D) approaches to minimize the threat of new Pgt races to wheat production in Ethiopia

Recurrent outbreaks of rusts debilitated mega wheat varieties in major production areas in Ethiopia. Projects to accelerate seed multiplication of rust resistant varieties funded by USAID, BMGF and others contributed to the replacement of the widely grown susceptible varieties Kubsa and Galama. In 2013/14, a new Pgt race (TKTTF) - unrelated to Ug99 - caused 100% yield losses on bread wheat variety Digalu. The continuing epidemic calls for fast replacement of the now susceptible varieties by accelerated seed multiplication to scale-up new varieties with durable rust resistance, and demonstrations to promote their adoption. In 2014, CIMMYT initiated a short term R4D project ‘Emergency Seed Support and Demonstration of Rust Resistant Wheat Varieties in Stem Rust Affected Areas of Ethiopia’. The project was financed by USAID and implemented in collaboration with EIAR, regional agricultural research institutes, and the Oromia Bureau of Agriculture. In collaboration with DRRW, CDL, and WSU, technical assistance was given to research centers to phenotype and genotype their breeding lines and commercial cultivars. A total of 352 Development Agents (15% female) were trained in rust identification, seed technology and crop management. Eight rust resistant varieties were demonstrated on 430 model farms in 16 districts in Oromia, Amhara and SNNPR. Awareness was created through field days organized by the Kulumsa and Sinana research centers in Arsi and Bale, respectively. Technical and financial support was given to four federal (Kulumsa, Werer, Debre Zeit, and Holetta) and three regional (Mekele, Sinana, and Adet) research centers for early generation seed multiplication. A total of 2,000 resource-poor farm households (10% female headed) selected on the basis of having suffered heavy losses to stem rust in the previous season, received technical assistance and 165 tonnes of seed of rust resistant varieties. Assisted farmers recorded above average zonal yields in 2014/15.

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