The importance of maize in Asian cropping systems has grown rapidly in recent years, with several countries registering impressive growth rates in maize production and productivity. However, increasing and competing demands — food, feed, and industry — highlight the continued need to invest in maize research for development in the region. Maize experts from around the world gathered to discuss these challenges and how to solve them at the 13th Asian Maize Conference and Expert Consultation on Maize for Food, Feed, Nutrition and Environmental Security, held from October 8 to 10, 2018, in Ludhiana, Punjab, India.
The CGIAR Research Program on Maize (MAIZE) is holding a photo contest to highlight the diversity of maize, its harvest and use around the world. The theme is Harvest Diversity. We are looking for bright and engaging images that celebrate harvest time – be it action shots of harvesting maize in the field, or close up images of maize ears.
Winners: Five winning photos will be featured and credited across MAIZE social media channels and will be among the first images shared on the new MAIZE Instagram feed, launching in early 2019. The winning photos will also be featured in the next MAIZE Newsletter in early 2019.
By AbduRahman Beshir, Hari Kumar Shrestha, and Shailaja Thapa
The demand for maize in South Asia is increasing, with the main driver coming from the growing need for poultry feed. Countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan produce nearly 10 million metric tons of maize annually from an aggregated area of about 2.4 million hectares. This annual yield is achieved mainly through the use of hybrid maize seeds. However, the maize seeds that contribute to these national yields need to be imported, costing these countries millions of dollars annually. Nearly all the demand for hybrid maize seed in these countries has to be met via imports, which often makes retail prices – ranging from USD 4-8 per kilogram – expensive for small holder farmers.
When maize lethal necrosis (MLN) was first reported in Bomet County, Kenya, in September 2011 and spread rapidly to several countries in eastern Africa, agricultural experts feared this emerging maize disease would severely impact regional food security. However, a strong partnership across eight countries between maize research, plant health organizations and the private seed sector has, so far, managed to contain this devastating viral disease, which can wipe out entire maize fields. As another emerging pest, the fall armyworm, is making headlines in Africa, African countries could learn a lot from the initiatives to combat MLN on how to rapidly respond to emerging crop pests and diseases.