New partnership will help farmers in Malawi, Rwanda and Tanzania have better access to seeds that help maize crops better withstand growing challenges of drought, pests, diseases, and climate change.
NEW YORK and TEXCOCO, Mexico — Working together to improve access to and availability of climate-resilient maize varieties in eastern Africa, the Clinton Foundation and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) are launching a partnership that will not only improve access by smallholder farmers to modern maize varieties but also aim to bolster food security in Malawi, Rwanda and Tanzania. The Clinton Foundation is launching this partnership through the Clinton Development Initiative, which works in the region to improve economic opportunity for farmers through better access to markets, technology, and inputs like seeds and fertilizer.
By: Rahma I Adam, Florence Sipalla, Pauline Muindi and Vongai Kandiwa
The maize seed sector in East and Southern Africa is
male-dominated. Most seed companies operating in the region are owned and run
by men. Often access to land and financial capital can be a constraint for
women who are keen on investing in agriculture. However, there are women
working in this sector, breaking social barriers, making a contribution to
improving household nutrition and livelihoods by providing jobs and improved
The gender team within the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) Socioeconomics Program interviewed 9 women involved in the seed business in this region as part of a collection of stories that will be published as a book this May. In honor of International Women’s Day, held March 8, 2019, the CGIAR Research Program on Maize (MAIZE) and CIMMYT would like to share some of their stories to recognize these women—and many others like them—and highlight the important work that women do in seed systems in Africa.
This is Grace Malindi, and this is her story:
Dr. Grace Malindi, 67, started Mgom’mera in 2014 with her sister Florence Kahumbe who had experience in running agro-dealer shops. Florence was key in setting up the business particularly through engagement with agro-dealers, while Grace’s background in extension was valuable in understanding their market. Grace has a Ph.D. in Human and Community Development with a double minor in Gender and International Development and Agriculture Extension and Advisory from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the U.S. Mngom’mera is a family-owned enterprise. Grace’s three children are involved in the business, serving as directors. Her sons Ulemu and Mwai advise on strategic partnership, marketing and business development while her daughter Darlis shares her expertise in finance and accounting. She designed the company’s accounting systems and trained staff on it.
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.
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