News / Science & Technology

    New Corn Varieties Could Combat Famine During Drought

    Michael Onyiego

    Increasingly frequent droughts across Africa threaten to destroy the livelihoods of millions across the continent, but a new study has found the adoption of drought resistant corn could save African farmers and earn them nearly $1 billion in the coming years.

    Hundreds of millions of Africans rely on corn production for income, as well as basic sustenance in their daily lives.  But in recent decades, drought has wreaked havoc on populations across the continent, killing many and forcing others to rely on handouts to survive.

    From 2007 through 2009 unusually low rainfall across East Africa devastated rural communities and forced the Kenya government to adopt measures to combat food shortages and rising prices.

    But a new study conducted by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center has found new breeds of corn could help farmers fight the effects of drought and provide food throughout periods of low rainfall.  The study, conducted in cooperation with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation found widespread adoption of so-called "drought-tolerant" corn could result in collective economic benefits of around $900 million for African farmers by 2016.

    According to the study, the new breeds could also save consumers more than $500 million in drought related price increases during the same period.

    According to one of the report's authors, Wilfred Mwangi, the introduction of drought-tolerant corn will be critical for African farmers trying to weather the effects of global climate change.

    "The issue of climate change is a reality," said Mwangi.  "Drought occurs very, very often in sub-Saharan Africa.  It is even predicted that by 2050 we might even need entirely different varieties of maize if we are going to mitigate against drought.  This whole question of climate change and drought out of that climate change is the major constraint to maize production in Africa.  This is an important strategy that famers can use to adapt against climate change."

    According to Mwangi, who is also the associate director of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center's Global Maize Program, many of Africa's farmers are small-scale subsistence producers with little or no access to irrigation systems, which leaves them especially vulnerable to drought conditions.

    He told VOA the introduction of new corn varieties could boost yields by as much as 30 percent and protect against future shortages.

    East Africa has managed to recover from two consecutive years of drought with help from unusually high rains in late 2009 and early 2010.  The rains were caused by an "El Nino event" and produced extremely high crop yields across the region.   

    But early signs of a "La Nina" event have many expert predicting reduced rainfall in the coming months.  According to a brief released in August by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, the developing "La Nina" could inhibit the rainy season, which typically lasts from October through December.  If the rains fail, another devastating, region-wide drought can be expected as early as February.

    You May Like

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora