Seeing is believing: demo farms accelerate adoption of stress tolerant maize

Posted on dtma, Eastern Africa News, Eastern Africa News, Eastern Africa Publications, Media&Stories, News, News & Media, News & Stories, News articles, News release, PhotoStories, Publications, Research News, February 19, 2020

Joshua Masinde

Over 400 farmers from Manyatta in Embu County were on February 7, 2020, invited to a demonstration farm to witness the performance of various high yielding, early to medium maturing, drought tolerant maize varieties. Such occasions aim to encourage them to adopt varieties whose traits they preferred the most.

Some of the farmers who showed up for the field day in Embu County on February 7, 2020. Image-Joshua Masinde/CIMMYT.

They were invited by the Seed Trade Association of Kenya (STAK), with the support of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in continuation of the work started under the Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa Seed Scaling (DTMASS) project, which was later succeeded by the Stress Tolerant Maize for Africa (STMA) initiative. In attendance were officials from the Embu County government led by its minister in charge of agriculture, Jamleck Muturi, as well as ten seed firms, some of who use CIMMYT’s germplasm for seed propagation and marketing.

A seed company representative explains to the farmers the merits of the variety on this plot. Image-Joshua Masinde/CIMMYT.

Farmers such as 29-year old Nancy Wawira not only learnt of best agronomic practices, but also identified a high yielding, drought tolerant and early maturing variety she hopes to plant on her farm next season.

Nancy Wawira admiring a maize crop with double cobbers in one of the demo plots. Image-Joshua Masinde/CIMMYT.

For others like 52-year-old John Njiru, a father of four children, a higher-yielding variety with a lot of foliage, which remains green even after the maize cob has dried, is what he came looking for. The green maize foliage is significant income source due to demand from livestock keepers. He also feeds his own livestock with it, making substantial savings on animal feed expenditure.

John Njiru on a demo plot whose variety he likes. Image-Joshua Masinde/CIMMYT.

Latest STMA Bulletin is out

Posted on annual meetings, Eastern Africa News, Eastern Africa Publications, Media&Stories, News, News release, Newsletters, Publications, January 16, 2020

Read the latest news from the Stress Tolerant Maize for Africa (STMA) initiative. This issue highlights stories on how stress tolerant maize is improving the lives of smallholder farmers in northern Uganda, after a two-decade civil war; why stress tolerant maize varieties are good for Africa and how CIMMYT and its partners are making systems work for both men and women, among others. Download the report here.

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Street theater amplifies need for stress tolerant maize varieties

Posted on Media&Stories, News, News Articles, West Africa News, West Africa Publications, January 7, 2020

The Stress Tolerant Maize in Africa (STMA) project team in Nigeria used street theater to drum up messages on how to mitigate stresses affecting maize production in the country. The messages targeted mainly the youth, informing them that with the right stress-resilient seed varieties and the application of recommended agronomic practices, they can turn farming into a lucrative and livelihood improving enterprise. The messages were developed by the STMA team in collaboration with the Adopted Village Project of the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS), the Nigerian Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (NIFAAS) and the Theatre and Performing Arts Department of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

Local artistes in Nigeria perform songs, dance and drama at different markets and streets to create awareness on the benefits of adopting stress resilient maize seed varieties.

Local troupes displayed their skills in song, dance and drama to relay messages on the need for youth to venture into climate-smart agriculture to overcome challenges of drought, current and emerging pests and diseases, as well as improve their yield.

The artistes amplified the benefits of adopting stress resilient maize seed varieties.

Seven such performances were enacted at various markets and streets in Nigeria between August and November 2019. The theme of the street performance was, “Smart people, smart farming”. Since 2017, the STMA team has effectively used this unique campaign method to mobilize communities in rural areas to take adopt stress tolerant maize seed varieties for improved yields and livelihoods.

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.

Delivering good and stable yields for small scale farmers: Western Seed’s growing success in Eastern and Southern Africa

Posted on Eastern Africa News, Eastern Africa News, Media&Stories, News & Stories, Seed System News, Seed Systems, November 3, 2019

“Introducing a new maize variety needs a great deal of investment. You need to build a convincing business case for varietal turnover. Some new varieties may do well for certain traits, but there are other factors other than yield to consider, for instance, producibility, cost of seed production and farmers preferences.” says Saleem Esmail, CEO of Western Seed.

Saleem Esmail at the CIMMYT-KALRO MLN Screening in Naivasha during the Annual Partners Field day in Naivasha on August 28, 2010. Photo: Joshua Masinde/CIMMYT

Western Seed and CIMMYT have a long-standing collaboration since the Africa Maize Stress project over the past twenty years. Access to improved drought and disease resistant germplasm and use of the double haploid platform in Kiboko, Kenya help the company maize breeding program. Western Seed collaborates actively in CIMMYT’s regional trials.

Joseph Kaitaand his wife Alice Kaita display large cobs of maize cobs they just harvested from their farm. They plant the WH507 drought and disease tolerant variety, which guarantees them a harvest even in times of little rainfall. Photo: Joshua Masinde/CIMMYT

Western Seed hybrids help smallholder farmers like Margaret Wafula and the Kaita family in western Kenya, get good maize harvests despite the numerous challenges like drought and diseases.

Read more about the Western Seed case study here.

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