Africa Food Prize awarded to Agricultural Research Institute for leadership and innovation in finding solutions to the continent’s most pressing challenges
The International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), one of the lead centers of the CGIAR Research Program on Maize (MAIZE), was recognized for generating solutions on and off the farm that have improved the lives of millions in the face of climate change, a surge of crop pests and disease, and an urgent need for youth employment.
by Alexander Loladze and Carolyn Cowan
Maize ear infected with Aspergillus flavus. Photo: Maize Pathology Laboratory/CIMMYT
A novel approach allows the detection of aflatoxin-producing fungi in maize fields. A new study explains the technique and how it was tested. “Detection of Aflatoxigenic and Atoxigenic Mexican Aspergillus Strains by the Dichlorvos–Ammonia (DV–AM) Method” was developed in collaboration between scientists from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), the Japanese National Agriculture and Food Organization (NARO) and Fukui University of Technology, funded in part by the CGIAR Research Program on Maize (MAIZE).
By: Carolyn Cowan and Jennifer Johnson
A fall armyworm found on maize plants in Khamman district, Telangana state, India. Photo: ICAR-Indian Institute of Maize Research
The fall armyworm (FAW), Spodoptera frugiperda, a devastating insect-pest, has been identified for the first time on the Indian subcontinent. Native to the Americas, the pest is known to eat over 80 plant species, with a particular preference for maize, a main staple crop around the world. The fall armyworm was first officially reported in Nigeria in West Africa in 2016, and rapidly spread across 44 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Sightings of damage to maize crops in India due to fall armyworm mark the first report of the pest in Asia.
Maize crop infected with maize lethal necrosis disease in Kenya. Photo: Florence Sipalla/CIMMYT
A new study from scientists with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the CGIAR Research Program on Maize (MAIZE) in Kenya has revealed key information about the genetic basis of maize lethal necrosis (MLN), a disease that has been wreaking havoc on maize crops in eastern Africa since its discovery in the region in 2011.
Maize is the main staple food crop in sub-Saharan Africa and is cultivated on more than 35 million hectares of rain-fed agricultural land, providing sustenance to millions. The MLN disease, caused by a combination of the maize chlorotic mottle virus (MCMV) and sugarcane mosaic virus (SCMV), causes irreversible damage that kills maize plants before they can grow and produce grain. Yield losses from infected fields in Kenya range from 30-100 percent, depending on the stage of disease infection and the prevailing environmental conditions. Such losses dramatically increase the risk of food insecurity in the region and weaken the ability of smallholder farmers to feed their families.