By Jennifer Johnson
Admire Shayanowako is no stranger to agriculture or the
problems that smallholder farmers in Africa face. The 31-year old maize
researcher grew up on a small farm in Zimbabwe where his family was constantly
plagued by parasitic weeds. Now based at the University of Kwazulu Natal in
South Africa, he is working on biocontrol agents and maize genetic resistance
against Striga, also known as “witch weed”. He was recently recognized for his
innovative research as one of the winners of the 2019 Maize Youth Innovators
Awards – Africa, in the category of “researcher” at an awards ceremony in
Lusaka, Zambia on May 9.
Stress-tolerant maize varieties are helping farmers produce more food despite climate change. Photo: Johnson Siamachira/CIMMYT.
As the world’s changing climate makes it more difficult to feed a growing population, smallholder farmers need sustainable solutions to improve food security and livelihoods while adapting to the impacts of climate change. Stress tolerant crop varieties offer much-needed answers, as one of the “10 best bet innovations for adaptation in agriculture” according to a new working paper from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).
Farmer Joyce Mapeto shucks maize after harvesting her crop in in Pindukai village, Shamva district, Zimbabwe. Photo: Peter Lowe/CIMMYT
A new study from scientists with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) shows that drought tolerant (DT) maize varieties can provide farming families in Zimbabwe an extra 9 months of food at no additional cost. As climate change related weather events such as variable rainfall and drought continue to impact the southern African nation at an increasing rate, these varieties could provide a valuable safety net for farmers and consumers.