Nutritious maize tortillas: from field to plate

Support in Morelos, Mexico of maize value chain with enhanced protein quality and zinc maize for better nutrition and income opportunities

Photo of Natalia Palacios Rojas
5 9

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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

CIMMYT International Center for Maize and Wheat Improvement

Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Start-Up (a pilot that has just started operating)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $1k - $10k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 5,000 - 10,000

Organization type

  • Nonprofit, NGO, or citizen sector

Secondary Focus Area

  • Rural development

Headquarters location: Country

  • Mexico

Headquarters location: City

Texcoco, Edo de Mexico

Location(s) of impact

Mexico: Tepalcingo, Cuernavaca


Twitter URL

Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

Double burden of nutrition is present in Mexico households. With maize playing a large role in the diet, its traditional cooking and use of nutritionally enhanced maize can bring health and nutrition benefits to consumers and income opportunities to value chain actors. Building on current efforts for biofortification and sustainable agriculture we aim to further promote the cultivation of quality protein and enhanced kernel-zinc maize, its use by nixtamalization industry and its consumption by vulnerable consumers group

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

Previous efforts using quality protein maize in Mexico have failed due to the lack of seed availability and the disintegration of the value chain. However, work in other countries like Ethiopia and Guatemala has shown the nutritional benefits and the income generation opportunity for the value chain. Current work in Mexico is successfully integrating and strengthening the maize value chain from farmers to consumers, from seed sector to food industry. We will build on such effort bringing nutritional maize to contribute alleviate the malnutrition in the target region. Partnering with BASF will allow us to use agronomic technologies to enhance grain productivity, expand farmer capacity building in good agronomic practices, business and leadership. By encouraging the use and consumption of nutritious maize and promote the consumption of traditional maize tortilla we aim to enhance nutrition of vulnerable population and increase income opportunities for youth and women in the area

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

The impact of CIMMYT and partners projects in Mexico follow a shared vision of increasing production and productivity together with farming systems’ resilience while favoring rural development enabling factors (such as the strengthening of local agricultural input value chains). To date, CIMMYT alone reaches through its projects in the country at least 300,000 farmers which in the case of rainfed maize see an average increase in yield of 30%. The Sustainable Intensification strategy in place promotes conservation agriculture and other management practices to better adapt to and mitigate GHG emissions which will be aligned with interventions from BASF that contribute to enhance productivity in the field while ensuring clean environment by appropriate training. Many other actors and partners contribute with aligned efforts, substantially adding up to the referred figure. Consumption of quality protein maize by vulnerable population leads to an 8% increase in height and 9% in weight.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

About 20% of the pilot work will be “in kind” support of participating organizations including CIMMYT, BASF, local seed companies, farmers associations and processors associations throughout their different projects and work in the region. The remaining cost of the pilot will be covered by this grant. Future scale-up work plan will be included in fund raising activities in the subsequent years with public and private sector.

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

We are working with the different actors of the maize value chain which have been strengthened through current projects and we are bringing a menu of technologies and training to farmers, processors and consumers. We aim to contribute alleviating the double burden of malnutrition in Mexico by encouraging the consumption of a traditional and extensively consumed product, the tortilla but prepared using nutritionally enhanced maize.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

We’ve got inspired by looking at the high rates of malnutrition and obesity in Mexico and the decrease in nixtamalized maize tortilla, a nutritious and traditional food in the country. Rescuing the consumption of maize tortilla but using nutritionally enhanced maize for its preparation and working together with the actors responsible to bring them from field to plate; we aim to impact all household members. Maize value chain is being strengthened through current efforts but not enough nutrition and gender inclusivity focus has been given yet. We want to empower small farmers and foster a healthy environment through sustainable agricultural measures. Our driving question is “Why cannot we improve nutrition in the center of origin of Maize, Mexico, and the birth country of the mother of quality protein maize, Evangelina Villegas?”

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Upon recommendation from others


Join the conversation:

Photo of Mouhamadou Moustapha Seck

Congratulations for the very relevant initiative.

Photo of Natalia Palacios Rojas

Thanks! We all can contribute for better nutrition and farmers life!

Photo of Mouhamadou Moustapha Seck

let's do it Natalia. Cheers.

Photo of Rachael Cox

Hi Natalia! Great to see you work here!! Great luck in the competition. Muchos saludos, Rachael

Photo of Natalia Palacios Rojas

Thanks Rachel! same for you! it is really good to see all great ideas to contribute for better nutrition and farmers life. Saludos!!