IWD 2016: Super women of Africa

By Brenda Wawa and Johnson Siamachira

For International Women’s Day 2016, CIMMYT and MAIZE celebrate women farmers in Africa, who through their resilience, bravery and commitment have weathered challenges in maize farming to put food on the table. These women contribute to enhancing agricultural growth and food security.

Valeria and her daughters and part of their bountiful maize harvest from ‘ngamia’ seed. Photographer: CIMMYT/Brenda Wawa

Valeria and her daughters and part of their bountiful maize harvest from ‘ngamia’ seed.
Photographer: CIMMYT/Brenda Wawa

Initiative sheds light on how gender inequality influences capacity for agricultural innovation

24602776066_5620d1e950_z_efa722a26ef7895076b57ad9d5e47e89An international team of CGIAR researchers will delve deeply into the causes of gender disparity in the agricultural sector with a $1.1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

This grant adds to the investments of 11 CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs), the Government of Mexico; the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ); the World Bank and the CGIAR consortium office, to support an international collaborative research initiative known as “GENNOVATE: Enabling gender equality in agricultural and environmental innovation.”  The project is engaging gender and social development specialists with 11 CRPs to identify practical actions which can strengthen the ability of agricultural research for development organizations to support poor rural women, men and youth to expand their power and capacity to access, take up and benefit from improved agricultural and natural resource management technologies and practices.

Could conservation agriculture help mitigate climate change?

Double maize yields for Malawian farmer with conservation agricultureIn the densely populated areas of South Asia on the Indo-Gangetic plains (IGP) and Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), climate change threatens to pose an enormous risk to food security. By the year 2050 both regions are expected to suffer crop yield decreases of at least 20%, with a 40% chance of crop failure for maize in a given season in much of Southern Africa, making a sustainable increase of food production critical in the near future.

Red root marker creates new opportunities for DH breeding

Purple maize varieties with high anthocyanin accumulation can have significant nutritional and economic value, but  cannot be identified using the R1-nj marker.

Purple maize varieties with high anthocyanin accumulation can have significant nutritional and economic value, but cannot be identified using the R1-nj marker.

Doubled haploid (DH) technology provides important benefits to maize breeding programs, as DH lines enhance genetic gains and improve breeding efficiency in addition to offering significant economic advantages. DH lines can be generated in less than half as many seasons as lines generated through traditional breeding, thus saving valuable time, resources and energy. The large scale production of DH lines is dependent on the identification of haploids at an early seedling stage. Haploids have traditionally been identified by the R1-nj (Navajo) anthocyanin color marker which, when crossed with haploid inducer lines through induction crosses, will produce haploid progeny seed with purple markings on its outer layer, or pericarp. This is to differentiate haploid from diploid seedlings, which are not useful for DH breeding.