68 / SEEDWORLD.COM JUNE 2018 STATUS COLOMBIA The first zinc-enriched maize variety developed for South America was released in Colombia Feb. 23 in an effort to combat malnutrition in the country. Developed using traditional breeding techniques, this biofortified maize has naturally higher concentrations of zinc. It is estimated that in some regions of Colombia, up to 50 percent of the population is zinc deficient. The new variety, known as BIO-MZN01, was developed by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) with sup- port from HarvestPlus, the CGIAR Research Program on Maize (MAIZE) and the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH). “The support that CIMMYT and CIAT have received from HarvestPlus has been fundamental in allowing our researchers to develop crops with enhanced vitamin and mineral content,” says Martin Kropff, CIMMYT director general. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 6.6 percent of the population of Latin America, or 42 million people, suffer from malnutri- tion. Biofortified crop varieties such as maize with enriched zinc content seek to reduce malnutrition by making micro- nutrients more bioavailable. In Colombia, zinc deficiency affects around 22 percent of the population. BIO-MZN01 contains 36 percent more zinc on aver- world STATUS A look at seed industry developments around the globe. It’s planting time and new technologies, from seed to irrigation, will allow farmers around the world to not only improve yields but also improve quality of life. age than other maize varie- ties, meaning that arepas (a maize-based Colombian staple food) made of this new variety offers consum- ers five times more zinc than those made with traditional varieties. Additionally, BIO- MZN01 can yield up to 6 to 8 tons per hectare (t/ha), nearly double the national average in Colombia of 3.7 t/ha and is resistant to several maize diseases that are common in the region, including rust, tur- cicum leaf blight and gray leaf spot. It can be grown between 0 and 1,400 meters above sea level during both cropping seasons in the country. “This is incredible news for the food and nutritional security of all Colombians. It is also an excellent opportunity to share the positive results that can be achieved by team- work and partnerships such as the work we are doing with HarvestPlus, CIAT, seed com- panies such as Maxi Semillas S.A.S and of course, with farmers,” says Luis Narro, maize breeder at CIMMYT Colombia. For Marilia Nutti, the regional director for Latin America and the Carribean at HarvestPlus, the release of this new biofortified variety is the result of “a joint effort we began in 2012, that was only made possible by the trail blazed by the research of several CIMMYT scientists long ago. Together, we have worked to turn maize, a staple food in the region, into a tool capable of reducing zinc deficiency in countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua and sev- eral regions of Colombia.” The scientific work conducted at CIMMYT, HarvestPlus and CIAT reaches the hands of farmers through local seed companies such as Maxi Semillas S.A.S., a partner of CIMMYT Colombia for the past 40 years that will be com- mercializing the new variety. —Source: CIMMYT. STATUS INDIA ASR Seeds, a Andhra Pradesh-based seeds com- pany that began operations 10 years ago, will soon get into another critical area of agriculture using cutting-edge technology. The company will launch an Internet of Things (IoT) irrigation system that will use minimal water in the fields (less than the drip irrigation system, which has been used widely in Andhra Pradesh), ASR Seeds director Alla Raveendra Reddy says. Reddy says that ASR Seeds will launch the IoT irriga- tion system in the next few months, using the technology from a company in Israel. “The IoT technology is state-of- the-art and will help farmers improve the yields from their farms. This will be particu- larly helpful in farms that are drought-prone,” Reddy says. Reddy says that ASR Seeds manufactures and mar- kets red chilli, pepper, pulses and cotton. The seeds were developed by ASR Seeds’ in-house research center, which is based in Guntur. The research, spread over 25 acres of land, has 20 researchers. “Our research facility was recognized as a designated