According to statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), 95% of food producers live in developing countries. Precisely the area that is worst hit by climate change. Droughts are becoming more severe, floods are devastating entire plantations and a lack in infrastructure and knowledge and access to technology means that between 20-40% of the crop yield is wasted at some point of the production process.
It has been acknowledged that technological advancements will play, and are already playing, an important part in increasing food production. Scientific research has been carried out by many organisations with the aim of finding solutions to a variety of problems encountered by farmers around the world. In Africa, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) is running a research programme, Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa (DTMA), with the objective of developing drought-tolerant maize. This initiative is essential to southern African farming and subsistence due to the region’s vulnerability to drought and its significant reliance on staple foods, such as maize. Drought tolerant maize will greatly contribute to increasing crop production and help farmers adapting to climate change.
Agfax, a radio and press service that reports on recent developments in farming and rural livelihoods, with an emphasis on science and innovation, interviewed Winfred Mwangi, the project leader behind the DTMA project, about the benefits of this new breed of maize. Speaking from their screening site in Zambia, Mwangi was positive about the success of the experiment. He highlighted that, when comparing the new drought-tolerant maize with other hybrid varieties, the new breed is cheaper for seed companies to multiply, which in turn can be sold at a more affordable price to farmers. Additionally, it has less reliance on water and a shorter maturity time, and offers higher yields. The results are promising and Mwangi is confident the new breed is going to help southern African farmers increase their output and reduce the risk of waste in the production process.
Climate change has long been the centre of political, economical, ecological and social discussions. As global warming takes its toll, food security becomes the focus of attention. The United Nations predicts that food productions will have to rise by 70% by 2050 in order to feed the enlarging population of our planet. However, without increasing productivity of arable lands and crops output, this will hardly be an attainable target. The DTMA project may still be on the testing phase, but it is an important step forward finding a solution to – not only against the effects of global warming, but to global food security while still providing better returns to African farmers.
Tags: food security