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 eastern 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 seed varieties.
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 Zubeda Omari Mduruma, and this is her story:
Dr. Zubeda Mduruma, 65, is a
plant breeder. Raised by farmers, Zubeda took to agriculture from a young age
as she enjoyed helping her parents in the farm. After high school, Zubeda
obtained a BSc in Agriculture then joined Tanzania’s national agriculture
research system, working at Ilonga research station. She then pursued her MSc
in Plant Breeding and Biometry from Cornell University in the U.S. and obtained
a PhD in Plant Breeding at Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania, while
working and raising her family. “I wanted to be in research, so I could breed
materials which would be superior than what farmers were using, because they
were getting very low yields,” says Zubeda. In the 22 years she was at Ilonga,
Zubeda was able to release 15 varieties.
Just in time for International Women’s Day, a series of videos have been published by the GENNOVATE initiative to raise awareness about and explore the interlinkages between gender norms, agency, and innovation in agriculture and natural resource management. The videos include stories of men and women from Mexico, Tanzania, and Nepal from the perspectives of local women and men themselves.
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