Second-generation haploid inducers: Now available

The second generation of tropically adapted haploid inducers developed by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) are now available for use by interested breeders and institutions.

Haploid inducers are a specially developed maize genetic stock that are used to develop doubled haploid (DH) maize lines. DH maize lines are highly uniform, genetically pure and stable, making the maize breeding process more intuitive and efficient by simplifying logistics.

Zimbabwe enacts new strategy in fall armyworm fight

CIMMYT maize breeder Thokozile Ndhlela (left, and farmer Otilia Chirova of Mutoko district in Mashonaland East province, identifying the fall armyworm in Chirova’s field in February. Chirova eventually lost almost half of her entire maize crop. Photo: J. Siamachira/CIMMYT.

Smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe’s rural areas have grown maize for years both as a staple and as a resource to boost their economy.

However, Zimbabwean farmers rely predominately on rain-fed maize farming, making each planting season a gamble with nature as poor rainfall, pests and diseases constantly threaten this staple crop and farmer livelihoods.

As most smallholders tried to recover from the El Niño-induced drought in southern Africa, affecting 40 million people during the 2015-2016 farming season, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, nothing could have prepared them for the sudden invasion of the fall armyworm in September 2016 that caused irreversible damage on their maize crop.

New online portal offers information to curb maize lethal necrosis in Africa

B.M. Prasanna

Artificial inoculation of maize germplasm at the Naivasha MLN screening site, Kenya. Photo: B.Wawa/CIMMYT

The new maize lethal necrosis (MLN) online portal provides up-to-date information and surveillance tools to help researchers control and stop the spread of the deadly disease.

MLN was first reported in Kenya in 2011 and has since then been reported in several countries in eastern Africa, especially the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The disease kills plants before they can grow, and the pathogens are transmitted by insects or contaminated seed. Serious damage to the region’s maize production from MLN has impacted household food security.