Press "Enter" to skip to content

Maize Project Supports Partners in COVID-19 Response – IITA

As the world continues the fight to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, food security in Africa, as well as in other parts of the world, needs to be given extra attention. More than 70% of the rural population in West and Central Africa depend on subsistence farming, and this is already under threat from climate change.

May and June are the most critical months for planting maize and other cereals in this region. The COVID-19 lockdown is  forcing many African governments to develop guidelines that keep agricultural value chains alive while adhering to public health guidelines.

The Stress Tolerant Maize for Africa (STMA) project, which is jointly implemented by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and IITA, has developed and deployed multiple stress-tolerant and productive maize varieties to help farmers adapt to climate change. CIMMYT and IITA are working in collaboration with diverse national and private sector partners in eight countries in Eastern and Southern Africa and four countries in West Africa.

In West Africa alone, the national partners and seed companies in Benin, Ghana, Mali, and Nigeria produced 49,293 metric tons (MT) of certified seed of stress-resilient maize varieties in 2019 under STMA with a continual supply of breeder seed from IITA. The available certified seed of resilient maize varieties will enable partners to reach farmers on time to plant and produce maize during the COVID-19 lockdown in different locations, addressing food shortages that affect poor people the most in both rural and urban areas in these countries.

According to IITA Maize Breeder, Abebe Menkir, the ability of smallholder farmers to increase food production is critical during this pandemic and beyond. He added that the production and availability of an additional 19 MT of breeder seed and 1441 MT of foundation seed of stress-resilient maize varieties with partners in the four STMA project participating countries would contribute to the further multiplication of foundation and certified seed for planting in 2021.

“Such strengthened adaptive capacity of our partners will contribute to building the resilience of farming communities even when the impact of COVID-19 lingers beyond 2020,” he concluded.

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Mission News Theme by Compete Themes.