Hugo Vivar - Retirement

Dr. Hugo Vivar

In February, 2000, Dr. Hugo Vivar retired after 16 years of dedicated service to the ICARDA/CIMMYT Barley Breeding Program for Latin America, plus 9 years of service to CIMMYT.

Hugo came to CIMMYT in 1975, after obtaining his PhD in plant breeding from North Dakota State University, and at first was assigned to bread wheat breeding. After 2 years, he was transferred to wheat improvement training. In 1982, he was put in charge of the barley breeding program at CIMMYT, which in 1984 became a collaborative effort with ICARDA. Though the ICARDA/CIMMYT program is aimed at developing barley for Latin America, the barleys developed by Dr. Vivar also are sown in other parts of the world, such as China, Pakistan, and Kenya. One of the reasons his barleys are used so widely is that they possess resistance to multiple diseases such as the three rusts, BYDV, Fusarium head blight, scald, net blotch, and Septoria.

In the course of his long career, Dr. Vivar worked on different types of barley meant for diverse environments and uses, including barleys for marginal environments, such as those in the Andean Region of South America, where subsistence farmers use barley for food. In one such region, Saraguro, in his native Ecuador, he started a project aimed at getting farmers to sow two high-yielding barley varieties adapted to local conditions and carrying resistance to diseases endemic in the area. The project started in 1996 with one farmer, whose bumper harvest convinced others to try the new varieties in the following year. Since then, the number of farmers participating in the project has gone up every year and totaled 650 in 1999. As a result of the project, the average barley yield in Saraguro has risen to 2.6 t/ha, more than three times the national average, and the people have enough to eat all year-round.

That achievement and many others were remembered at a 2-day seminar held in honor of Dr. Vivar, for which barley researchers from Latin America, the US, and Syria came to Ciudad Obregon, Sonora, Mexico, on Mar. 13-14. At the seminar presentations on a wide range of topics were made by 12 barley researchers, plus Dr. S. Rajaram, Wheat Program Director, Dr. S. Ceccarelli, head of barley breeding at ICARDA in Aleppo, Syria, and by Dr. Vivar himself.

Hugo is continuing to work on barley breeding as a consultant at CIMMYT and plans to remain active in research for many years to come.