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U.S.-Mexico Meeting To Forge Cooperation on Future Research

By Lupe Chavez
November 6, 2001

The most pressing issue facing farmers on both sides of the Rio Grande River, the dividing line between Texas and Mexico, involves water. In south Texas, two reservoirs that provide water for crops are facing the worst shortage ever for this time of year. Drought in the region has persisted for eight years. In northern Texas, farmers are pumping water from aquifers deeper and deeper in the ground, which increases energy costs. Mexico faces many of the same challenges of managing crops with limited water and poor soil conditions.

As a step toward solving these problems, the Agricultural Research Service and Mexico’s National Institute of Forestry, Agriculture and Livestock Research (INIFAP) will co-host a two-day summit Nov. 6 in Weslaco, Texas, and Nov. 7 in Rio Bravo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, to discuss joint projects and plan future research. ARS Administrator Floyd P. Horn and INIFAP Director Jesus Moncada are expected to attend.

Topics of discussion at the meeting will include soil and water management, plant health, livestock diseases and remote sensing techniques. Scientists will trade information and suggest ways to improve collaboration on future research.

This will be the first time the two agencies have met to plan border agricultural research. Scientists from both agencies will lead panel sessions on regional problems in the U.S. and Mexico.

Discussions on techniques for protecting plant health could aid the importation of exotic fruits. Mangos, for example, must now be heat-treated to kill Mexican fruit fly larvae. ARS scientists hope to work in Mexico on ways to control the spread of native fruit fly populations from Mexico into Texas' fruit industry.

Mexican and American scientists have been collaborating for more than 80 years. ARS goals include carrying out more research in Mexican laboratories while inviting more INIFAP scientists to America. Past U.S.-Mexican scientific collaborations have resulted in many successes, and the Nov. 6-7 meeting could lay the groundwork for additional breakthroughs.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific research agency.