Translations and Reprints No. 13
3 -1. /:;'
NATIONAL PRODUCTION PROGRAMS
FOR ITIIUDUCliG HIGH-QUALITY PROTEIN IAIZE
IN DEVELOPING COBUFTIIES
Ernest W. Sprague
CENTRO INTERNATIONAL DE MEJORAMIENTO DE MAIZ Y TRIGO
INTERNATIONAL MAIZE AND WHEAT IMPROVEMENT CENTER
L. oa ,, 40 Apirledo Posial 6-641 Misico 6. D. F., M6Ilco
NATIONAL PRODUCTION PROGRAMS FOR
INTRODUCING HIGH-QUALITY PROTEIN
MAIZE IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
Ernest W. Sprague CIMMYT, Mexico
Spurred by the needs of a protein-hungry world, maize research has
moved rapidly over the past 10 years. Maize breeders, biochemists, and
nutritionists have combined their efforts to develop maize varieties and
hybrids that are nutritious, economical, and universally available. Since
Mertz, Bates, and Nelson reported the enhanced nutritive quality of
opaque-2 maize in 1963, the potential of this high-quality-protein food
source has been studied rigorously and with increasing success.
Over the past few years workers have converted many diverse and vari-
able maize populations with inherent supplies of modifiers, and they have
selected for a wide range of characteristics in many environments to provide
the germ plasm base for high-quality-protein varieties and hybrids. Now
cooperative international testing of the new materials-at 54 sites in 24
countries in Asia, Africa, and the Americas-indicates that several varieties
are fast approaching commercial standards.
This rapidity of progress at the research level suggests that we must now
mount an effective campaign for the adoption and production of the new
maize varieties on a global basis, thus sharing their benefits with the
nutrient-poor people of the world. However, we must plan well. Although
there is no blueprint for a system that will match the needs of every country,
some general guidelines can be proposed. Successful experiences in some
countries and regions can be adapted to other areas. And, hopefully, the
unsuccessful projects in some nations can be used to prevent repeat perfor-
One factor seems certain: if the world is to realize the potential of high-
quality-protein in maize, there must be a continuous flow of genetic materi-
als into and among the national maize programs. National efforts must be
more sharply defined and national staffs must be allowed more oppor-
tunities to participate at an international level, thus becoming aware of and
having access to the best materials and ideas.
The following outline of maize program requirements illustrates some
points of focus for national programs. Organizational and structural limita-
tions are cited, and the final section is devoted to model staffing patterns.
Reproduced with permission from: High-Quality Protein Maize, CIMMYT/Purdue
University, Copyright (c) 1974. Dowden, Hutchinson and Ross, Inc. Published,
Stroudsburg, Pcnnsylvani.'. U.S \ Dr. Sprague is Director, Maize Program, CIMMYT.
ROLE OF NATIONAL PROGRAMS
The ultimate success of high-quality-protein maize depends upon the
communications effectiveness of researchers, and their ability to convince
national governments of this crop's importance. We scientists, in our tradi-
tional, conservative approach, too often have been poor communicators, at
least when our efforts have been measured on a mass scale. We tend to be
more concerned with relating our findings to other scientists than we are
with applying the information at the production level.
Today, we face the challenge of redirecting our thinking and study toward
more global needs. We must first convince government planners and policy
shapers to make a firm, general commitment in support of agricultural
research and production programs. Then, in appropriate countries, we
should urge that high priority be given to planning and organizing maize
Historically, however, governments have not placed a high priority on
food production until their countries faced famine conditions, or until the
cost of importing food reached a level that made self-sustained production
the most attractive political and economic alternative. Government com-
mitment is essential; only with this support can an effective national pro-
gram be organized within the economic means of a country.
RESEARCH AND PRODUCTION PROGRAM LIMITATIONS
National programs usually have several initial limiting factors, including
(1) lack of qualified research and:production personnel, and (2) lack of an
organization structure to effectively generate the technology and extend it
to the farm production level.
As outlined later in this report, most countries will require a minimum of
10 to 15 years to develop self-sufficient staffing patterns. Staffing demands
often would require that a large portion of a nation's agricultural graduates
enter into the production system for a single crop (maize). Governments
rarely appreciate the cost and time necessary to staff an agricultural institu-
tion. Too often, national planners find it easier fo estimate production
targets, rather than plan for an effective research and production program
with the staff development necessary to reach production targets.
Other factors to be considered are the following:
1. Budgets for national programs, although extremely important, are
seldom the initial limiting factor. Similarly, credit is rarely the first limiting
factor to accelerated production, although it often becomes a restraint as
2. Stable and fair prices for production inputs and for the harvested crop
are extremely important. In far too many countries the ratio of the cost of
fertilizer to the value of the crop does not provide sufficient economic
incentive. Without this profit motive, the best of research and production
efforts will have little effect in increasing production.
3. Unavailability of fertilizers and insecticides at the right place and the
right time can be a hindrance. Often these supplies are managed by gov-
ernment workers, and their services vary from one country to another.
Presents systems seldom work well. Many of the inadequacies in planning are
due to inaccurate advice from the agricultural sector-sufficient provisions
are not anticipated, particularly as production increases rapidly.
4. Understanding of agriculture and the changes that are taking place or
could take place is frequently lacking. In my opinion, every country should
have a competent production economist who can communicate effectively
with the agricultural staffs and with national planners.
1. Here at CIMMYT we feel strongly that national planners should move
away from the traditional systems of agricultural organization built around
the academic disciplines. We feel that the older systems should be reor-
ganized into crop-oriented teams. In the past, industrial crops such as
rubber, which have been researched by a crop-oriented team, have proved
much more successful than food crops, which usually have not been studied
by a team of researchers. Maize has been very productive in the United
States, perhaps because U.S. seed companies have had their own research
and production teams working on the single crop.
2. Means must be found to bring together effective research and extension
teams. Extension and production personnel should be crop-oriented, also.
For example, they might devote their work to maize during the maize season
and, later, to some other crop grown in rotation with maize. It is essential
that extension agriculturists be allowed to devote their full efforts to increas-
ing production, rather than diluting their agricultural work with the many
community responsibilities traditionally assigned to extension personnel.
In some countries, extension is staffed with the less-qualified workers, or
with agricultural graduates having lower academic records. The best-
qualified people go into research. Also, the extension staffs usually receive
lower salaries and have fewer promotion opportunities. These discrepancies
must be eliminated if extension efforts are to be effective.
The subject-matter-specialist concept does not fit the pattern of most
national extension systems. In my opinion, the production-specialist role is
essential, and specialists should be assigned to work from experiment station
bases, in close liaison with the extension field staff.
3. Pilot projects must be assessed for their potential contributions to
the value of a new material, idea, or concept. Some such projects have been
successful in the past, but generally they have not been integrated into a
truly national program; therefore, pilot projects have had little influence
on total national production. Too often they have been expensive and un-
productive exercises. There is no substitute for commitment to national
4. Maize varieties, not hybrids, should be used in developing countries
unless there is a private seed industry capable of producing and selling seed
of high quality. Few governilcnt-sponsored hybrid seed production pro-
grams have proved to be efficient.
Such a situation should not be surprising. Varieties can be developed
more rapidly than hybrids. In the same time that lines, single crosses, and
hybrids can be increased and ready for sale, further improvements can be
made in varieties. Thus, the yield advantage normally assumed with hybrids
is often lost.
Hybrid seed programs have a further disadvantage in that as many well-
qualified people are required to produce quality hybrid seeds as are needed
to develop the hybrids. When few qualified people are available, a nation
can ill afford to dissipate its resources with hybrid seed production.
5. In some countries, seed certification, plant quarantine, and variety
release policies are nonexistent: in other countries these policies are so strict
that they hamper production. In my opinion, production increases should
receive the highest priority: seed certification and release policies are not
necessary if an appropriate testing program is used. Unfortunately, many
developing nations now are being encouraged in an unwise use of time,
money, and people to develop and enforce seed control regulations.
Having described some of the limitations, as well as some possible new
approaches for national crop programs, we now turn to a description of a
model that outlines some of the staff structure and functions for such
programs (see Table 1).
One headquarters station and four regional stations will meet the research
needs of most nations, with a staff of 20 scientists required to staff the
headquarters station and a staff of 6 for each regional station a total of 44
people. Degree requirements for the staff could be a minimum of 6 Ph.D.'s,
10 M.S.'s, and 28 B.S.'s. or the equivalent. In addition, there should be five
subject-matter specialists with M.S. degrees for extension work, with one
specialist posted at the headquarters station and one at each of the four
The coordinator is responsible for the coordination of all research and
production activities at the headquarters station and the regional stations.
He also is an active researcher on the team and may be trained in any of the
disciplines. Ile must understand and implement the concept of a true
team. (My concept of a team is a group of people working together and
not a group of people who are "cooperating". When people cooperate they
usually maintain their own special interests, and their cooperation involves
provision of an insecticide or assistance with note taking. The concept here
TABLE 1. Model for national crop programs
Research staffing pattern for headquarters
1 coordinator Ph.D. 2 research assistants B.S.
1 breeder Ph.D. I pathologist Ph.D.
1 associate breeder M.S. 2 research assistants B.S.
3 research assistants B.S. 1 entomologist Ph.D.
1 research agronomist Ph.D. 2 research assistants B.S.
(a team without individual disciplinary programs)
Production staffing pattern for headquarters
I production agronomist M.S.
2 research assistants B.S.
1 agricultural economist Ph.D.
1 research assistant B.S.
1 subject-matter specialist M.S.
Staffing pattern for regional stations
1 resea-ch agronomist M.S.
2 research assistants B.S.
1 production agronomist M.S.
2 research assistants B.S.
1 subject-matter specialist
involves a team of people with one captain. The entomologist, for example,
need not have special trials for entomology. He could do insecticide eva-
luation as part of the overall crop production management program. In
rare cases he might find a need to test new chemicals).
A simple, effective program must be worked out that can be executed
by available staff, since a program in most countries would have to start
with a few, inadequately trained people. As staff numbers increase and
capabilities improve, the program enters into more complex research
In the initial stages, when local trained staff are unavailable, a well-
trained foreigner, who has the qualifications to function as the coordinator,
might be invaluable and could greatly accelerate the progress of the national
The program should start by testing quality protein varieties and progeny
that can be supplied by the more advanced international and national
programs. It seems likely that varieties could be identified that will be
successful in many countries. Of the thousands of progeny that might be
tested it seems certain that a few would be superior for the local ecological
conditions. These progeny could be put together as a variety.
To identify varieties and progenies successfully, experiment stations
must have efficient testing facilities. A high degree of skill and carefully
conducted yield trials would be required to provide the conditions under
which the superior materials could express their genetic potential. Variety
and progeny testing could be done at all headquarters and regional stations.
The agronomic research would start by assessing management practices,
including fertilizer response, rates of insecticide applications, optimum
plant population, and planting date, as well as other specifically useful
factors. In addition, the production team would start regional farm testing.
This would involve testing two or three of the best varieties, at two or three
levels of the production variables as determined on the experiment station.
The regional farm testing should be done with cooperative farmers on
their own land.
Through a regional farm testing program, the farmer could be involved
in selecting superior varieties. By participating in the testing program, he
could see which levels of fertilizer and which variety might be most success-
ful on his farm. It is highly important that the farmer become interested
and self-convinced through personal involvement. Field days at harvest
with the help of neighboring farmers could aid to relay information and
to show the results of a successful production demonstration program.
The subject-matter specialist could help identify cooperative farmers
and provide support for the regional farm testing. He also could organize
the extension personnel, helping to prepare large production demonstra-
tion plots of at least 0.5 hectare. The production demonstration plots
would provide a showcase for the best variety, using optimum economic
Field days could be held at harvest time at each of the production dem-
onstration plots. If the technological "package" is sound, the farmer grow-
ing the demonstration plot will be enthusiastic and might become an excel-
lent "extension" agent. Since the production demonstration plot would
be at least 0.5 hectare in size, the center of the field could be saved for
seed. The subject-matter specialist and the extension staff should partici-
pate in the harvest and explain the reason for saving only isolated seed from
the center of the plot. This seed should then be sold to.the neighboring
CONTINUOUS FLOW SYSTEM
The process, or flow system, of variety and progeny testing on the exper-
iment stations, regional farm testing, and production demonstration plots
is continuous, with new materials and new farmers. It is critical that all
steps be managed with precision and be successful. In this way, relatively
large quantities of new seed will be moved rapidly into the area.
The experiment station will have to increase rather large quantities of
genetically pure seed of any variety that goes into the production demon-
stration plots. Since the variety that will prove to be best is not known in
advance, all varieties in the regional farm testing program should be simul-
taneously increased on the experiment stations.
Figure 1 shows the flow system for materials and technology among
headquarters station, four regional stations, five regional farm testing sites
operated from each station, and five production demonstration plots in
the vicinity of each regional farm trial. The staff patterns outlined pre-
viously could manage this colume of work. Production demonstration
and seed increase blocks would be planted at the rate of 125 per crop
season in the first years of the program. In subsequent years these numbers
would probably be insufficient to meet the nations' requirements.
FIGURE 1. Flow system for materials and technology.
As indicated, extension workers must become better trained and more
involved. Several maize production specialists might be trained simultane-
ously with the development of the research staff, and then posted through-
out the maize-producing area of the country. There should be at least
one specialist for every administrative division or region of a country.
His responsibility would be to organize the extension staff working in
his area for successful demonstrations and to explain the advantages of
the new high-quality-protein maize varieties to the farmers. Along with
the subject-matter specialist, he would organize training programs for the
the production staff conducted by the research staff at the experiment
Although researchers and extension people might understand the value
of the quality protein, it might be difficult to explain this concept to the
farmer. The value of quality protein in the family diet cannot be perceived
rapidly enough for parents to appreciate it during a short time. Therefore,
any variety going into production must be superior in yield to the variety
previously grown, and it must be acceptable in appearance.
In some countries, swine trials might convince farmers of the value of
new varieties. For example, swine fed normal maize will reach market
weight in about 10 months on the average. However, if fed the same amount
of high-quality-protein maize, the swine would reach market weight
much more rapidly. Therefore, swine-feeding programs could be started
with farmers wherever production demonstration plots are grown. If the
farmer feeds half his pigs with high-quality-protein maize and the other
half with normal maize, he will see very quickly the feeding value of the
quality protein maize. This simple demonstration could be one of the
most effective teaching tools available to promote the growing of quality
If a national program is to be successful, a phased staff development
program must be organized simultaneously with research and production.
As an example, we can examine the proposed staffing pattern and assume
that there are six important maize-growing regions or districts in a country,
with a maize production specialist in charge of the maize extension work.
Including the research and production team, there would be 55 people
participating in accelerating production. All these people, regardless of the
degrees they hold, will need 9 months of in-service training if they are to
fully understand the possibilities and approaches to an efficient research
and production program.
If we assume that a B.S. or equivalent degree could'be obtained within
the particular country, a phased staff-developed program within a 14-year
period could include the approximate numbers of people indicated in
It can be readily seen that the staff development program is ambitious.
In most countries, this sort of staff would be difficult to mobilize on such
However, when this training schedule is completed, the program should
be able to meet national research and production requirements. Govern-
ments should understand that resignations, promotions, and other causes
will reduce this initial staff up to 25%. Therefore, more people must be
trained over a longer period of time.
TABLE 2. Personnel for staff-development program
To summarize, 505 man-months of in-service training and 76 man-years of
degree training will be required to meet the staffing needs just described.
Approximately $1,000,000 U.S. would be required to finance such a staff
development program at present costs.
In addition, a local training program would'have to be developed for the
extension personnel discussed earlier in this paper. The number will de-
pend on the size of the country, the size of the holdings, and the speed
with which a country wishes to increase its production.
Meeting the staffing requirement is only a beginning. Continued oppor-
tunities for younger staff improvement would have to be taken into
consideration. Also, opportunities for senior-staff study leave would be
essential to assure that the national program does not stagnate.
The system described in this paper is not intended as an "absolute"
model, but it does provide an outline for a successful program. Although
the outline is built around high-quality-protein maize, it is not maize
specific. The model is equally applicable to other national crop programs.