News / Africa

Effort to Boost Global Maize Supply Gets $170m Injection

Millions of small farmers expected to benefit by 2020

Farmer Bamusi Stambuli, from Balaka, Malawi, shows off a healthy ear of maize, a staple crop for more than 900 million people worldwide.
Farmer Bamusi Stambuli, from Balaka, Malawi, shows off a healthy ear of maize, a staple crop for more than 900 million people worldwide.

Multimedia

Audio

Research into improving global maize supplies got a $170 million dollar boost today.

The new initiative, led  the Mexico-based International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, aims to raise productivity enough to feed 130 million more people by 2020.

Officials at the center,  which is known by its Spanish acronym, CIMMYT, say the project will focus on helping small-holder farmers in developing countries. However, the research will benefit everyone.

Maize is a staple food for nearly a billion people worldwide today.

Demand is expected to double by 2050 as world population tops nine billion and the need for livestock feed also increases.

Challenges

At the same time, maize farmers are facing a number of serious challenges.

"We have climate change," says CIMMYT chief Thomas Lumpkin. "We have energy prices. We have water depletion. We have rapidly rising fertilizer prices that are pushing down our ability to produce food."

The maize research initiative includes developing new tools so farmers can make more efficient use of fertilizer. It will also help adapt the grain itself to the higher temperatures and more frequent droughts and floods expected with climate change while fortifying it against increased pressures from weeds, pests and diseases.

Massive maize collection

CIMMYT holds a collection of some 27,000 varieties of maize at its headquarters in Mexico, where the crop was first domesticated. The initiative aims to identify valuable genetic traits buried in the DNA sequence of all those varieties. Mexico is a major donor to that effort.

"Mexico is very proud that they have given maize to the world," Lumpkin says. "Now, Mexico wants to give the world the DNA sequence of maize."

Iowa State University maize researcher Roger Elmore, who  is not involved in the project, praises its comprehensive approach and the impressive level of funding. "One hundred and seventy million dollars would go a long way toward improving things here and probably a lot further in the developing world."

Small investments, big gains

Often, it doesn't take much money to improve yields. Elmore worked in Haiti a few years ago, where he helped farmers increase their yields from two tons per hectare to five tons.

"With just some fertilizer, more plants per area, and just better management," he says. "Two to five tons. It's just information and a little bit of technology. That's all it took."

The CIMMYT initiative aims to benefit 40 million small-holder farm families in the developing world by 2020.

But the benefits of research will be felt around the world,  according to Lloyd Le Page, head of CIMMYT's parent organization, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.

"Let's face it, food is a global issue," he says, "whether we're talking about Iowa farmers or whether we're talking about farmers in Africa."

Research into improving yields under hotter temperatures will help maize farmers almost everywhere. And as climate changes, pests and diseases expand into new territories, including parts of the semi-tropical developed world,  farmers in wealthy countries will find research into warding them off to be very useful.

You May Like

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify Power Base

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs