A new generation of maize Drought-tolerant maize for AFrica

In 2014, the Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa (DTMA) project continued to make great strides in what it does best: developing and delivering high-yielding drought-tolerant maize varieties for Africa’s most drought-vulnerable farmers.

Maize is one of the most important staple crops in sub-Saharan Africa, where a farmer may expect to face drought several times a decade. Each time, they risk losing much of their harvest, an ever-present threat to the food security and livelihoods of smallholder farmers and consumers in the region.

A joint initiative between the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), DTMA works with national seed systems in 13 countries across Africa, working not only to increase yields by at least one ton per hectare under moderate drought, but to provide improved seed that performs in other conditions too. This would constitute a 20 to 30 percent increase over farmers’ current yields, benefiting 30-40 million people.

In 2014 alone the project supported the commercial release of 33 new drought-tolerant varieties, totaling 160 new varieties since 2007, and facilitated the production of nearly 52,000 metric tons of certified seed, enough to plant more than 2 million ha and benefit approximately 5.2 million households.

“The success of DTMA goes beyond the breeding work. Our work now is to ensure that maize farmers benefit from the seed that was developed with them in mind,” said Dr. Tsedeke Abate, DTMA Project Leader. “Getting the drought-tolerant maize and other improved seeds to the farmers is a critical step that will ultimately crown the success of our work for the last eight years.”

With this purpose, the Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa Seed Scaling (DTMASS) project aims to further increase and improve the production and deployment of affordable and improved maize varieties for smallholder farmers. The project, launched in November 2014, plans to produce close to 12,000 metric tons of certified seed for use by approximately 400,000 households, or 2.5 million people, in seven countries in eastern and southern Africa.

The DTMA project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Howard G. Buffett Foundation, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the UK Department for International Development. The DTMASS project is funded by USAID.

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