To target 10 million farmers practicing climate-smart agriculture in the next five to seven years.


Photo credit: CIMMYT

A new stress-tolerant maize variety compared in Zimbabwe. CIMMYT/Johnson Siamachira

Target for 10 million more climate-smart farmers in southern Africa amid rising cost of El Niño

El Niño may have passed, but food security in southern Africa will continue to deteriorate until next year, as farmers struggle to find the resources to rebuild their livelihoods. Currently, around 30 million people in southern Africa require food aid, expected to rise to 50 million people by the end of February 2017.

Two Zimbabwe-based scientists from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) highlighted predictions that El Niño will become more frequent and severe under climate change, and that heat stress will reduce maize yields in southern Africa by 2050. Research centers, development agencies and governments must work together to respond to climate predictions before food crises develop, they said.

Drought in southern Africa during El Niño. CIMMYT/GIS Lab –×258.png

Q: What do climate predictions say and how do they inform CIMMYT’s work?
We identified that heat stress is going to become a more important issue for maize in southern Zimbabwe, and southern Africa generally.Jill Cairns: Using climate projections we identified what future maize growing environments are going to be like, what traits will be needed for these environments and where the hotspots of vulnerability will be in terms of maize production.

Previously we had no heat screening in the whole of Africa for maize breeding, and four years ago we set up heat screening networks. Through that we are starting to get maize varieties that do well under heat and drought.

Read the full article: CIMMYT

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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