In a “Global Food for Thought” article focusing on the recent drought in Kenya, prominent journalist and policy advisor Roger Thurow tells of how CIMMYT-bred maize crops have thrived where their neighbors have shriveled. In the post, published on 17 June 2011, the former Wall Street Journal correspondent describes how, despite only having three short bursts of rain since February, the drought tolerant maize variety produced by the Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa project has “fairly uniformly produced large ears of corn”.
Local farmer Philip Ngolania grows the drought tolerant maize variety. He tells Thurow that his neighbors “ask me for my secret, why I have cobs and they have none, and I tell them, ‘It is the variety I use.’ I’m always telling them they must change from the Mbembasitu to this new variety.” Despite having to pay for the new seed variety, Ngolania thinks it’s worth it. “You pay nothing, you get nothing,” he says.
Now, it appears that the word is spreading. Dryland Seed Ltd., a company multiplying the drought tolerant variety, sold out of stock before the beginning of the last two seasons. Farmers are already buying seeds for this October’s planting season in the hope that, unlike this year, they will have not only enough maize to feed their family, but enough to provide a small income too.