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. B. Wawa/CIMMYT’
By Brenda Wawa
About her last maize harvest in August 2015, Valeria Pantaleo, a 47-year-old wife and mother of four from Olkalili village, northern Tanzania, waxes lyrical: “I finally managed to buy a calf to replace my two oxen that died at the beginning of the year due to a strange disease.” Valeria relies on the oxen to plow her two-acre land.
More than 2 million farmers in sub-Saharan Africa are growing the new varieties for more food and income.
EL BATAN, Mexico, 12 March 2012.
Known as “Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa” (DTMA), the winning initiative is responsible for the development and dissemination of 34 new drought-tolerant maize varieties to farmers in 13 project countries—Angola, Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe—between 2007 and 2011. An estimated 2 million smallholder farmers are using the drought-tolerant maize varieties and have obtained higher yields, improved food security, and increased incomes.
Maize is rapidly emerging as a key crop in Asian food systems. 70 percent of the maize harvest in Asia feeds the prodigious growth of the livestock sector, showing that maize is central to growing prosperity and changing lifestyles in the continent.