30 million hectares
Area over which Maize is grown in sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for 40% of cereal production in the region and providing at least 30% of the population’s total calorie intake. The crop is predominantly grown under rainfed conditions by resource-constrained smallholder farmers who often face erratic rainfall, poor soil fertility, increasing incidence of climatic extremes — especially drought and heat — and the threat of devastating diseases and insect pests.
of maize growing areas in sub-Saharan Africa face drought related stress. 40% face occasional drought stress with a yield loss of 10–25%. An additional 25% of the maize crop suffers frequent drought, with yield losses of up to 50%. Climate change is further exacerbating the situation, with devastating effects on the food security and livelihoods of the millions of smallholder farmers and their families who depend on maize in sub-Saharan Africa.
New climate-adaptive maize varieties developed and commercialized by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) over the last 10 years in partnership with an array of national partners and seed companies across sub-Saharan Africa. The new varieties produce reasonable maize yields under unpredictable rainfall-dependent growing season.
Certified seed of over 100 stress-tolerant improved maize varieties were produced by seed company partners in 2019. The seeds of these drought-tolerant maize varieties have benefited more than 8 million households and were estimated to be grown on more than 5 million hectares in eastern, southern and west Africa in 2020.
Number of countries across sub-Saharan Africa where maize is a major staple food crop, have some level of adoption of the new climate-adaptive maize varieties.
Increase in yield by using the drought-tolerant maize varieties developed by CIMMYT and IITA in sub-Saharan Africa under drought stress at flowering. This translates into at least a 1 ton per hectare enhanced grain yield on average, as well as reduced downside risk in terms of lost income, food insecurity and other risks associated with crop yield variability. In addition to climate adaptation, smallholder farmers benefit from these varieties due to improved resistance to major diseases like maize lethal necrosis and parasitic weeds like Striga. We have also developed drought-tolerant maize varieties with enhanced protein quality — such as Quality Protein Maize or QPM — and provitamin A, which improve nutritional outcomes.