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

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.

Scoring new drought tolerant CIMMYT lines in Kiboko 5 Sept 2019

Posted on Activities, Eastern Africa News, galleries, Media&Stories, PhotoStories, Research News, September 12, 2019

CIMMYT breeders selecting new CIMMYT line candidates in stage 4, scoring hybrid entries according to their drought tolerance in Kiboko research station – 5 September 2019

CIMMYT breeders scoring DT maize in Kiboko 5 September 2019
CIMMYT breeders scoring DT maize in Kiboko 5 September 2019
CIMMYT breeder scoring DT maize in Kiboko
CIMMYT breeder scoring DT maize in Kiboko
Suresh and Aparna ranking DT maize entries in Kiboko 5 Sept 2019
Suresh and Aparna ranking DT maize entries in Kiboko 5 Sept 2019
Cob not well covered by husk is prone to attacks Kiboko Sept 2019
Cob not well covered by husk is prone to attacks Kiboko Sept 2019
Stay green entry 52 DT maize in Kiboko
Stay green entry 52 DT maize in Kiboko 5 Sept 2019
Entry 42 DT maize cob in Kiboko
Entry 42 maize cob in Kiboko
Entry 42 during CIMMYT DT line evaluation in Kiboko Sept 2019
Checking grain filling in DT maize cob in Kiboko Sept 2019
Checking grain filling in DT maize cob in Kiboko Sept 2019
Staygreen late maturity hybrid in Kiboko Sept 2019
Staygreen late maturity hybrid in Kiboko Sept 2019
a good low N maize hybrid
Good low N maize hybrid in Kiboko
Comparison between maize that respond well to low N and commercial check
Comparison between good and bad low N maize
Shelling Low N maize cobs in Kiboko for yield measurement
Shelling low N maize cobs in Kiboko
Weighing low N maize trial
weighing low N maize trial
Close tip Maize cob in CIMMYT DT line evaluation in Kiboko

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.

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.

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