by Carolyn Cowan
Access to optimal seed is vital for smallholder farmers to
achieve high quality crops that give the best yield possible, allowing them to
maximize financial and nutritional gains. Understanding and evaluating the
methods by which smallholders obtain their seed is fundamental to guaranteeing
farmers are receiving high quality seed that will support improved livelihoods.
A farmer who took part in the KIT study in Bihar, India. Photo: Genevieve Audet-Bélanger/KIT.
Maize is a staple food in many developing countries, and ensuring that smallholder farmers have access to and are familiar with the improved maize varieties available to them is critical in improving food security worldwide for farming families and consumers. In order to understand whether smallholder farmers have access to improved maize varieties and how the organization of the seed sector supports this, the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) recently conducted four studies on seed sector functioning and the adoption of improved maize varieties.
Professional advancement is a challenge for all scientists. Women and men scientists, however, face different constraints and opportunities in advancing their careers. In order to address this, MAIZE CRP sponsored a study from the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) into how the MAIZE and WHEAT CRPs approach the professional capacity enhancement of men and women scientists, and what can be learned from other organizations that have successfully addressed the advancement of women’s careers in science.
In addition to a literature review, the study involved interviews with managers and women scientists in several organizations working within the two CRPs.
A Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) study funded under the Competitive Grant Initiative of the MAIZE CRP, “Gender Matters in farm Power,” investigates how gender matters in small-scale farm power mechanization in African agriculture, particularly in maize-based systems in Ethiopia and Kenya. KIT collaborated with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center’s (CIMMYT) Farm Power and Conservation Agriculture for Sustainable Intensification (FACASI) project on the study in order to leverage FACASI’s experience with national project partners and to build on and complement the project’s work.