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
CIMMYT, Washington State University and Total Land Care (TLC) recently published a series of extension bulletins to spread awareness of the benefits that different conservation agriculture (CA) techniques could have for farmers in Malawi.
The study, “Sustainable Intensification and Diversification on Maize-based Agroecosystems in Malawi,” took place over three years in the districts of Nkhotakota and Dowa, and was sponsored by MAIZE CRP through a Competitive Grants Initiative.
Sub-Saharan African farmers typically apply less than 20 kilograms of fertilizer per hectare of cropland — far less than their peers in any other region of the world. In 2014, partners in the Improved Maize for African Soils (IMAS) project developed 41 Africa-adapted maize varieties that respond better to low amounts of nitrogen fertilizer and are up for release in nine African countries through 24 seed companies.
Female farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa display relatively low rates of adoption of modern crop varieties in comparison to male farmers. This gender gap in modern crop adoption prevents women from receiving higher crop yields and improving their standards of living, which is detrimental to women’s empowerment in the region. A study published in the April 2014 edition of Food Policy sought to investigate the gender gap in modern maize adoption in Malawi and whether or not Malawi’s Farm Input Subsidy Program (FISP) had influenced this gap.