Free to all research cornerstone of Oz wheat industry

ALMOST all the wheat varieties that Australian farmers grow are derived from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) in Mexico.

Crawford Fund Chairman Tim Fischer gave this information to farmers, policy makers and scientists during a national forum organised by the Crawford Fund and the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology.

"CIMMYT-derived varieties ... have made an enormous contribution to Australia's wheat industry, as evidenced by theA$2.6 billion in total benefits generated from 1973 to 1994," said Mr Fischer. "On an annual basis, CIMMYT-derived wheats produced between A$62 million and A$81 million for Australia's wheat industry from 1973 to 1993.

"By 1997, CIMMYT-derived varieties covered over 90 per cent of wheat area in Australia, and over 96 per cent in all states except WA (85 per cent)."