Women and youth help lead efforts to adopt climate-friendly farming and safeguard indigenous maize yields
Farmers walk through a field that has been cleared by slash and burn agriculture in the Yucatan peninsula. Photo: Maria Boa/ CIMMYT
The Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico has been hard hit by drought and extreme weather events related to climate change in recent years, exacerbating local poverty and food insecurity. In addition, slash-and-burn agriculture techniques have led to environmental degradation and contribute to climate change. The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) is working to help indigenous Mayan farming families in the Yucatan peninsula adapt to and mitigate climate change, increasing maize yields and food security while minimizing negative environmental impact. This comes as world leaders mull a crucial decision on agriculture at the UN Climate talks in Bonn, a decision that could support farmers everywhere to take similar actions.
In 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.
Grace Malaitcha, from Zidyana, Malawi is considered a “farmer leader” because of her use of conservation agriculture. Photo credit: Patrick Wall/CIMMYT.
Provoked by a dearth of discussion in peer-reviewed literature on the interactions between gender and conservation agriculture (CA), several CIMMYT staff and gender consultant Cathy Rozel Farnworth took on the challenge of reviewing the issues in eastern and southern Africa.
By Frédéric Baudron, Christian Thierfelder and Isaiah Nyagumbo, CIMMYT agronomists
The controversial debate among researchers about the suitability of conservation agriculture for smallholder farmers in Africa continues while rural inhabitants in Africa face food insecurity and degrading resources. What is the role of CIMMYT’s research on CA in Africa?