How to build gender-sensitive seed systems, share your experience on Nov. 21

Posted on Eastern Africa News, Media&Stories, News, News & Stories, News release, Press room, Seed System News, Seed Systems, November 14, 2019

Young woman displaying freshly harvested high-yielding maize in Western Kenya-credit CIMMYT-Joshua Masinde

”Improved maize seed is essential for African farming systems because of its relatively higher yield potential, better adaptation to common biotic and abiotic stresses such as diseases, pests, drought and low nutrients, and more efficient use of water. However, several studies have revealed that women farmers are less likely to use improved seed than men, leading to relatively lower productivity levels. These gender gaps represent real costs not only to women farmers but to their households, rural communities, but also to seed companies and agro-dealers”, says Rahma Adam, gender specialist at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Nairobi.

”This is really a seed market missed by some seed stakeholders”, Adam adds.

She will speak at a webinar ”Gender and Seed Systems” on November 21, 2019, organized by the CGIAR Research Program on Maize and hosted by the CGIAR collaborative platform for gender research.

Rahma Adam will share STMA experience in seed systems that work for women, be it seed entrepreneur, seed grower, farmer, agrodealer or other positions in this sector still dominated by men.

Other speakers are Shawn McGuire, 20 years experience on smallholder seed systems and seed security matters, working at the FAO; and Esther Njuguna-Mungai, social scientist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and involved more recently on gender-sensitive legumes seed systems.

Is there a gender gap in maize seed systems and how to address it?

With widespread support from donors, national governments and research institutions, the seed sector in Eastern and Southern Africa has rapidly evolved in ways that have greatly altered the landscape of seed delivery to smallholder farmers. As the types and volumes of improved maize seeds increase, several questions arise, for instance: How do men and women farmers learn about the performance of these new improved compared to those that they presently grow? Which approaches are most effective in reaching different demographic groups? and How can one ensure that women get opportunities to learn about and access improved maize varieties?

As the types and volumes of improved maize seeds increase, several questions arise, for instance: How do men and women farmers learn about the performance of these new improved compared to those that they presently grow? Which approaches are most effective in reaching different demographic groups? and How can one ensure that women get opportunities to learn about and access improved maize varieties?

If you want to learn more about this issue, register at the webinar here.

Rahma Adam and her colleague Pauline Muindi will also organize a day workshop under the same theme on December, 2 in Nairobi. Many participants across CGIAR, development organisations and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will attend to share their views how to address the gender gaps in seed systems. More information to come.

Farmers adopting drought tolerant Maize in Makueni county, Kenya

Posted on Eastern Africa News, Media&Stories, News, News & Media, News & Stories, News articles, News release, Press room, Seed System News, October 14, 2019

Swedish journalists Eric Abel and Anna Liljemalm who are writing a book on climate change and seed visited the Stress Tolerant Maize for Africa project in Kenya from Sept. 9-11, 2019.

Journalists from Sweden in action to understand how maize breeding can help Kenyan farmers adapt to climate change. Photo : CIMMYT/Bossuet

We met some farmers who adopted drought tolerant maize hybrid SAWA from Dryland Seeds Ltd (DSL) in drought-prone Makueni county.

Dolly Muatha is a 49 years-old demo farmer with four children.

Dolly Muatha, demo farmer in Makueni county shows her maize grain surplus.
Photo: CIMMYT/Masinde

Because her fields are well placed near the road, she has benefited for the last three years from DSL support to demonstrate the yield potential of SAWA DT maize in this terraced landscape.

Dolly likes SAWA ‘’because it produces 2 to three beautiful cobs and it matures early. In case rains stop when the maize is at knee height, even before tassel and silks form, that is where you see its potential compared to non-drought tolerant varieties.’’

Alex Somba, his wife and son in front of their house, near Wote. Photo: CIMMYT/Masinde

Alex Somba 45 year-old farmer near Wote saw how SAWA performed at Muatha’s farm and tried it out in 2017.

He usually practices dry planting from October 1, as rains usually start around the third or end October, until end of the year.

‘’SAWA beats other popular hybrids because of its early maturity and drought tolerance. It resists well to Grey Leaf Spot and grain stores well, resists weevil.’’

‘’If rains start end of October and after 2 weeks of rains there is a dry spell of 2 weeks, other varieties will perform badly whereas SAWA copes relatively well with such erratic rains patterns,’’ he added.

Providing good agronomic advice to the farmers is important to benefit fully from new varieties. Joyce, DSL field officer pointed out that ‘’ a good advice I usually give for farmers like Alex is optimum crop spacing.’’ For better yields, she would advise to practice 20cm x 30 cm spacing, one seed at a time. Traditionally farmers would put up to 5 seeds per planting hole, which will generate small cobs and much lower yields.

Bill Gates talks about drought-tolerant maize developed by CIMMYT

Posted on Eastern Africa News, Media&Stories, News release, Resource Video, Videos, July 15, 2019

In 2018, Bill Gates launched a campaign about climate change, because he worried not enough people understood the dimensions of the problem. In a blog post, he reminded readers that not only the energy sector is concerned, but also “the other 75%” — in particular agriculture and food systems. We need innovations to reduce our carbon footprint, Gates explained, but also to help the most vulnerable to cope with the effects of growing climate risks.

Rainfed smallholder farming families in sub-Saharan Africa are particularly at risk, as their livelihoods depend on unpredictable rainfall patterns. By the 2030s drought and rising temperatures could render 40% of the continent’s maize-growing area unsuitable for current varieties.

Drought-tolerant maize varieties could improve the climate resilience and the livelihoods of millions family farmers across Africa. The innovations offered by these varieties are affordable and scalable.

A team from Gates Notes came to drought-prone Machakos county in Kenya to visit farmers who are growing drought-tolerant hybrid maize. This variety, developed by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and sold in the county by Dryland Seeds Limited under the SAWA brand, can yield up to 20% more than other drought-tolerant hybrids, explained the company’s managing director, Ngila Kimotho.

Guy Tucker filming Ms Nduku in Vuylya village, Machakos country in Kenya (credit CIMMYT / Jerome Bossuet)

Despite limited rainfall in the village of Vyulya, Ms Nduku harvested well-filled maize cobs. Her neighbour, who grows a local variety, had a less successful harvest. 

CIMMYT developed these varieties under the Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa (DTMA) initiative, a ten-year project which finished in 2015. This work is continuing under the Stress Tolerant Maize for Africa (STMA) initiative, which is developing maize varieties that cope well with drought and other climate stresses. So far 3.5 million farmers in 13 African countries are benefitting from stress-tolerant maize varieties.

Read Bill Gates’ blog ” You’ve probably never heard of CGIAR, but they are essential to feeding our future.”

Watch Gates notes’ video on drought-tolerant maize for Africa.

STMA Stakeholders Hold their 2019 Annual Review and Planning for West and Central African Region

Posted on annual meetings, News release, Press room, West Africa News, May 5, 2019

West Africa STMA 2019 review meeting held at IITA headquarters in Nigeria, 23-27 April 2019

The 2019 Annual Review and Planning Meeting for the West and Central African Regional Stakeholders in the STMA Project was held at the headquarter of International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, Nigeria, from Tuesday 23rd to Saturday 27th April 2019. The meeting had in attendance members of the STMA maize breeding, testing, demonstration and promotional teams in Nigeria, Ghana, Benin and Mali.

The meeting had for each country scientists, promotional experts and stakeholders in the national agricultural seed system. Each country presented their 2018 work reports, as well as 2019 plan of activities with regard to the thrust of the project.

Mali and Benin awarded for their good work

the Mali team at the award ceremony

In a well-deserved manner, Mali emerged the overall best winner of the 2018 Maize Technology Breeding Country for the STMA project within the West and Central African Region. The team had presented a robust picture for Mali, with several varietal releases, well ahead of Nigeria, Ghana and Benin. The award was presented to the team at the 2019 Annual Review and Planning Meeting

Benin overall winner of 2019 West Africa STMA technology dissemination award

Benin emerged the overall best winner of the Maize Technology Dissemination Country for the STMA project for the same period and within the same region. The team presented novel ways of the promoting the STM varieties in the 2018 season, including the development and deployment of innovative platforms, alongside other conventional platforms. While Nigeria was the second runner-up to Mali in the maize technology breeding, Ghana was the runner-up for the technology dissemination.

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