Are maize agro-food systems aligned with the United Nations’ SDGs?

by Natasha Nagarajan

New report discusses maize’s relationships to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Mountains overlook a maize field in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. (Photo: Natasha Nagarajan)

Maize is one of the most important cereals on Earth, especially in Africa and Latin America. Not only is it a significant source of food for humans, but it is also valuable as animal feed and is even used in biofuel. In a recently  published paper in the journal Global Food Security, scientists from the University of Wisconsin, Purdue University and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) discuss the importance of maize in relation to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs lay out requirements for improving the livelihoods of all beings on Earth, creating a more sustainable future, and addressing issues such as climate change, social inequality, poverty and peace. Maize is highlighted in this paper as a prime example of a resource that aligns with and supports the SDG narrative in many different ways. 

Include small indigenous production systems to improve rural livelihoods

By Natasha Nagarajan

New research recommends targeted assistance and engagement with small farmers in rural Guatemala to improve livelihoods and reduce migration pressures.

Maize-bean intercrop in the milpa system of the western highlands of Guatemala. (Photo: Carlos Gonzalez Esquivel)

Researchers from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee, United States, and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Texcoco, Mexico, describe why it is important for technical assistance to build upon indigenous farming knowledge and include women if programs are to succeed in tackling poverty and hunger in rural, Mesoamerican communities. Their findings, describing recent work in the Guatemalan Highlands, are recently published in Nature Sustainability.