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.
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 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.
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.
”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.
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?
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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.
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.
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.
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.
“80 percent of farmers in northern Uganda still use the farm-saved or recycled seed, which we consider as our biggest competitor.”
“ Through demonstrations and our local seed marketing network, farmers can see how well the drought and disease tolerant hybrid UH5051 performs, even under erratic climate. This has helped them to gradually adopt our improved seed.” says Equator Seeds CEO, Tonny Okello.
Discover this successful partnership between STMA and Equator Seeds to reach out maize smallholder farmers in Northern Uganda and South Sudan to improve their productivity and resilience here