A handful of drought tolerant maize seed. Photo: A. Wangalachi/CIMMYT
MEXICO CITY (CIMMYT) — Maize is a major food crop in sub-Saharan, yet yields remain low under smallholder farmer conditions compared to other regions due to drought, low soil quality and other stresses. In Angola and Zimbabwe more than 70 percent of maize is grown in areas with a 40 to 60 percent frequency of a failed season, while over one-third of maize in Kenya, Mozambique, and Tanzania is grown in areas with this frequency of failure. Annual yield loss in maize due to drought is estimated to be between 15 and 90 percent depending on the stage when drought occurs.
In a new study published by researchers at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), new drought tolerant maize hybrids and open pollinated varieties were compared against the best commercial varieties in eastern and southern Africa (ESA) under farmer management conditions and to validate on-station results.
After various trials were conducted across ESA, new drought tolerant hybrids showed a yield advantage over the commercial check varieties both in the early and medium-late maturing categories by 4 to 19 percent. Under farmers’ fields four varieties (CZH0616, CZH0837, CZH0935 and CZH0928) were high yielding and stable across locations in eight countries that represent major maize production environments in eastern and southern Africa.
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