Maize is the most important staple crop in the world.
Photo: FAOALC

18.05.2017

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Is drought-resilient maize an answer to pressure on African farmers through climate change? The Center for Development Research (ZEF) organised a panel of experts to address this topic in Bonn, Germany.

Maize is an important staple food crop in most of sub-Saharan Africa, and it is grown on around 33 million of the total 194 million hectares under cultivation in the region. However, El Niño and global warming have had a dramatic effect on farming in many areas. The 2015-2016 El Niño event was one of the strongest on record. Among the countries affected in Africa was Ethiopia, which saw its worst drought in decades. The country, which is the continent’s fifth-largest maize producer, suffered huge crop losses, and an estimated 1.35 million farmers were left without new seed.

In West Africa, global warming is set to trigger shorter rainy seasons, more arid conditions, longer dry spells and more droughts. According to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), farmers in Northern Ghana consider drought and floods as the biggest challenges to their income and to food security. Together with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), IITA launched the “Drought-Tolerant Maize for Africa” (DTMA) project in 2006 that now operates in 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

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