Mexican farmer turned seed producer visits his wheat field
Mexican farmer Francisco Javier Balderas Espinoza visits his wheat field to check on its progress, in the central Mexican plains region known as the Bajío. He is producing seed of the wheat variety Urbina, on behalf of the small seed company Bidasem. "I’ve been farming for many years, all my life. I learnt it from my parents—it was them who brought me up to farm—and here we are," he says. "They taught me to work from when I was very young, around 12 or 13."
Bidasem produces maize, wheat and oat seed, but does not have its own fields, instead working closely with trusted farmers like Balderas. "I started to see their seed, and afterwards I got to know the [Bidasem] agronomist through a friend. They liked my work and I liked their work, and we started to work together," he says. Balderas carries out the day-to-day management of the seed production plot, such as preparing the soil, planting, and applying inputs. "The agronomist comes to visit, he’s often with us, we’re always coordinated to be able to get a good result. That’s the main thing for both of us. He supervises the process, and that helps a lot," he says. Both men keep a close eye on the growing crop, ready to react to changing conditions such as the potential for disease this season brought on by damp weather.
After three years of growing seed for Bidasem, Balderas also began buying their seed for his own crops. "Principally, what you’re looking for is the yield. Their seed has given me good results—and it’s good seed, it has good germination." Urbina, released in 2007, was developed for the Bajío by the Mexican National Institute of Forestry, Agriculture and Livestock Research (INIFAP), based on both INIFAP and CIMMYT parent materials.
Despite their small size, Bidasem and similar companies play an important role in reaching small farmers with improved seed that offers them better livelihoods. “Our aim is to provide farmers with quality seed at accessible prices, that is adapted to the conditions we have here in the Bajío. It’s a great satisfaction, when farmers achieve the yields they need,” says director general María Esther Rivas.
Photo credit: X. Fonseca/CIMMYT.
For more on seed production at Bidasem, and CIMMYT's role in providing the best seed, see CIMMYT's 2012 e-news story "The seed chain: producing better seed for small farmers," available online at: www.cimmyt.org/en/newsletter/598-2012/1398-the-seed-chain....