Latest STMA Bulletin is out

Posted on annual meetings, Eastern Africa News, Media&Stories, News & Media, Newsletter, Newsletters, Publications, Southern Africa News, October 17, 2019

Discover the latest from the Stress Tolerant Maize for Africa (STMA) initiative. This issue talks about product profiling, costing of maize breeding, highlights of CIMMYT’s Kenya Annual Partner Days and portraits of Kenyan farmers who have adopted stress-tolerant maize varieties.  READ HERE

Resilience and livelihoods improved for 3.5 million African farmers now planting stress tolerant maize varieties

Posted on annual meetings, Media&Stories, News, News & Media, News & Stories, Press room, Southern Africa News, May 24, 2019

The Stress Tolerant Maize for Africa (STMA) project held its annual meeting May 7-9, 2019 in Lusaka, Zambia to discuss the achievements of the past year and priorities going forward.

Farmer participatory evaluation of STMA hybrids compared to popular varietis

STMA Project Leader Cosmos Magoroksho recalled what STMA project launched in 2016 is aiming at “Maize is grown on 30 million hectares in SSA, and more than 208 million farmers depend on it as a staple crop. However, average maize yields in SSA are among the lowest in the world. STMA is a multi-stakeholder project designed to develop, test and deliver improved maize varieties that can mitigate the combined effects of multiple stresses in farmer fields and provide reliable decent yields even in challenging conditions like drought or low soil fertility.”

“STMA proved it is possible to combine multiple stress tolerance and still get good yields. One of the greatest aspects of STMA are great partnerships which have only grown stronger through the years. We are now the proud partners of over 100 seed companies,” said B.M. Prasanna, director of the CIMMYT Global Maize Program and the CGIAR Research Program on Maize (MAIZE), in his keynote address. 

CIMMYT and partners across SSA are working together in the fight against challenges such as drought, maize lethal necrosis (MLN) and fall armyworm (FAW) using innovative technologies such as doubled haploids, marker assisted back crossing, and germplasm screening to develop improved stress tolerant maize for farmers. The efforts are paying off—in 2018, 3.5 million smallholder farmers planted stress tolerant maize varieties in 10 African countries, Prasanna said.

STMA Annual review participants visited ZAMSEED – Lusaka 8 May 2019

On May 8, participants visited local seed company partners, namely Afriseed, Zamseed and QualiBasic Seed to learn more about the opportunities and challenges of producing stress tolerant maize seed for smallholder farmers. Afriseed CEO Stephanie Angomwile discussed her business strategy and passion for agriculture with participants. She expressed her gratitude for the support CIMMYT has provided the company, including access to drought tolerant maize varieties as well as capacity development opportunities for her staff.

At QualiBasic Seeds (QBS), CIMMYT staff and partners were given the opportunity to learn and ask questions about the seed multiplication process in Zambia and the importance of high quality, genetically pure foundation seeds for seed companies.

Bhola Nath Verma, principal crop breeder at ZAMSEED explained climate change has visible impact on Zambian maize sector as the main maize growing basket moved 500 km North due to increased drought. Verma values the partnership with STMA as he can source very drought-tolerant breeding material from CIMMYT and IITA allowing him to develop very early varieties that escape drought and bring much needed yield stability to farmers in Zambia, Angola, DRC, Botswana and Tanzania.

Maize Youth Innovators 2019

The meeting concluded with an awards ceremony for the winners of the 2019 MAIZE Youth Innovators Awards – Africa, established by MAIZE in collaboration with the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD). These awards recognize the contributions of young women and men below 35 years of age who are implementing innovations in African maize-based agri-food systems, including research-for-development, seed systems, agribusiness, and sustainable intensification. This is the second year of the award, and the first time it has been held in Africa. Winners include Hildegarde Dukunde of Rwanda and Mila Lokwa Giresse of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the change agent category, Admire Shayanowako of the Republic of South Africa and Ismael Mayanja of Uganda in the research category, and Blessings Likagwa of Malawi in the farmer category.

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.

Meet Hajia, a Nigerian maize woman farmer enthusiast about her collaboration with STMA

Posted on annual meetings, Media&Stories, News & Stories, News Articles, News release, West Africa News, May 5, 2019

“I am Hajia Asibi, a community women leader, civil servant and a proud farmer. But my story and venture in agriculture is not a conventional one.

     I have not always been a farmer. In fact, I never dreamt of one day becoming a farmer. In my youthful years, I believed farming was a profession for the poor, the masses. Perhaps this perception was informed my archaic and laborious methods of farming by everyone around me. Indeed, all the farmers I knew then were poor, very poor. And because I had high taste for life, farming for me was completely out of the equation. What I have always wanted to be was a community leader who empower women and youths to self-empowerment and economic emancipation.

      If you grew up in northern Nigeria like I did, you will understand my desire for women economic empowerment and freedom. The boy child was everything the girl child wanted to be: with regard to education, marriage, decision-making, political participation, gender roleplay and all. Luckily for me, my parents were educated and very supportive to my desires; so I was among the few fortunate ones to go to school with the strong backing of my parents. After school, I joined the civil service, because of my belief in white-collar job.

     A few years into government employment, I discovered to my utter dismay that I could not survive our harsh economic environment with a salary job. I struggled to meet my basic obligations as a parent, leader and citizen. After trying several options, I found myself in agriculture. I therefore practised agricultural business (production and sale of grains) as a means of additional income. Unlike many other new entries into agriculture, I was not disappointed by the drudgery and poverty surrounding its activities. These were well known and expected by me.

     And when I thought I have had enough of agricultural business, NAERLS-IITA came to my rescue, with so many information on innovations and how to increase profitability. They came with so much commitment and perseverance that I had to listen to them. Indeed, I have heard about NAERLS many years ago, especially through their broadcasts of agricultural programmes on radio and television. Farmers in the north are fully aware of the laudable work of NAERLS in moving agricultural production in this country. But with their activities in the Stress-Tolerant Maize for Africa (STMA) project, the Institute provided for us new ways of making good money in maize farming.

Hajia’s house she built thanks to better maize harvests after adopting STMA seeds

Since 2006, I have been involved in the leadership of Sabon Gari Women Multipurpose Cooperatives. But we still did not make headway. When the NAERLS-STMA team came on board, they helped us strengthen our group through training, provision of information and linkages. Our members moved from farming acres to farming multiple hectares. We now harvest more than sixty (60) bags of maize from one hectare after we embraced the ST-maize varieties and other recommended farm management practices. Our profits soared dramatically and our lives took a very good turn. Our multipurpose Cooperatives now invests in many other profitable businesses, like rentals, and buying and selling of processing materials.        One great testimonial of my encounter with the NAERLS-STMA team is my house, which I bought solely from my farm proceeds. During a time I was in dire need of accommodation, I was given an offer of a house for sale. The price was in millions of naira, so I thought I may never be able to buy it. Where would I get such money?’ I thought. That same season, through linkages with the right markets by the NAERLS team, I made over a million naira profit on my maize harvests. Of course, I also farm sorghum, millet and vegetables. But maize has since become my favourite crop. So I was excited over my sale and profit! Quickly, I made my first payment for the house, renovated it and did some restructuring in and around the house. I paid up the balance the following season, after another bumper harvest and sale.

Currently, I have five children in different tertiary institutions: two of them in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; one in School of Health Technology, Markafi, Kaduna State; while the other two are in Federal College of Education, Zaria. Farming helps me to meet all educational obligations, as well as household needs.

      I still work with the state government, but my focus now is more on farming and agripreneurship. Indeed, I’m fulfilled as woman and leader in society. I have the economic freedom I so much desired as a child, and I’m well respected among my people.

     Thank you, NAERLS-IITA team for bringing to me the needed information for quality decision in my agricultural business. Thank you, STMA Promotional team. I look forward to better days ahead in our collaboration.

Transforming farmers’ lives with climate and pest resilient seeds in Kaduna State, Nigeria

Posted on Annual Planning Meetings, News release, West Africa News, May 5, 2019

Mallam Idris Biye from Biye village, Kaduna State in Nigeria explains how being engaged in testing STMA varieties transformed the lives of many families in his village. Credit: IITA

“My name is Mallam Idris Biye, but my people here call me Yellow Biye, perhaps because I am fair in complexion, compared to many of my neighbours. I live in Biye Village, Kaduna State, Nigeria; I farm maize, soybean, sorghum and millet. But my favourite is maize.

Biye has always been an agrarian community and we love farming very much. My parents and grandparents were farmers, and we are proud to be among the very few people that feed humanity. But recently, we discover that our land is not as fertile as it used to be. When we were children, we witnessed huge harvests by our parents and, therefore, believed that farming was a profitable economic venture. My parents and grandparents built their houses and homes from proceeds in agricultural businesses.  They travelled to Giwa, Funtua, Katsina and Kaduna to sell off their grains in exchange for money. Although education was not that common then, we had everything we wanted while growing up. But today, things have changed for bad for farmers. We no more understand the onsets of rains, as they change too frequently and unpredictably. There is also the problem of very long dry spells, and even drought in the midst of supposedly rainy season. So we were really concerned.

         Added to these, is the problem of high incidences of pests and diseases on our maize today may be fall army worms, tomorrow it is streak! Then there is striga, that parasite weed that has become a nightmare to maize farmers in our area. All these put together, we became unsure and worried of what our future as farmers would be and more worried about the future of our children. Like many of my village men, I thought of changing my profession maybe learn mason, be a trader or some other work. But even then, I was seriously short of cash. Already, I had withdrawn two of my children from the school they were attending because I couldn’t meet their fee obligation. I relocated them to a cheaper school, which was also very low in standard, compared to the previous one. The small kiosk I operated to augment family income remained mostly closed because it was out of stock.

          This frustration led to one thing and another until we came in contact with NAERLS, which is the STMA Promotion organization in Nigeria. First, we made a passionate appeal to the NAERLS Adopted Village Project to make Biye village one of its focal areas. Luckily for us, we were adopted. They built an Agricultural Research and Extension Outreach Centre (AREOC) for us; facilitated us into forming strong farmers groups; linked us to credit facilities with a Microfinance Bank in Zaria and provided us several extension materials from which we learn a lot in agricultural production, marketing and utilization.

      Through the NAERLS Adopted village project, the STMA Promotional team got to us, and this tremendously changed our life. My major concern in my maize farms had been on how to access maize varieties that can withstand long dry spells, striga-infested soils and soils low on nitrogen. The STMA Project is like a miracle, a godsend! The team work with us farmers as equals in the agricultural venture, not like some ‘superior people’. The field demonstrations we had together was very participatory, a learning process for all of us. Besides linking us to seeds and other agro-input suppliers, we receive so much extension and advisory support from them.

      Just in three years (2016-2018), my story has changed! The STMA project empowered me with the necessary information and linkages to become a proud farmer again! My 2018 harvest was a bumper. And I’m not the only one; all of us that embraced the STMA innovation have been smiling to the bank, and we’re well respected in our community. I recently purchased a new motorbike and I conveniently feed my household with nutritious foods through proceeds from my maize farms. My children are all back to our schools of choice and high standards. My shop in Samaru Market is fully stocked. In all, I am happy to be identified with the NAERLS-STMA team.       In recognition of the impact of STMA activities on our farming businesses in Biye community, our farmers’ cooperatives presented to NAERLS a Distinguished Award of Excellence in supporting development activities in the community.

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