Stephen Mugo - CIMMYT:

‘Sub-Saharan African countries should scale up adoption of drought tolerant crops’

This Wednesday, a well-known Kenyan scientist stated said that sub-Saharan African countries should scale up adoption of drought tolerant crops, with the goal to contain food insecurity that has worsened against a backdrop of climate change.

Stephen Mugo, African regional representative at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) said that greater adoption of drought tolerant seeds combined with improved soil and water management is key to cushioning African small-holders from hunger and malnutrition.

“Farmers should shift to planting stress-resilient varieties, like early maturing maize varieties that just need 90 to 95 days to mature, instead of over four months for late maturing varieties,” said Mugo, adding that early maturing seed varieties are readily available from seed companies and agro-dealers operating in maize growing areas.

“If majority of small scale farmers in Africa’s drought-prone regions grow drought-tolerant varieties of maize and other staple crops, the farming communities will be better prepared for prolonged dry spells and inadequate rainfall,” said Mugo.

The scientist said that to improve soil fertility and structure and avoid soil compaction, farmers must practice crop diversification and sustainable soil and water conservation practices.

“To ensure large-scale adoption of sustainable and climate resilient technologies and practices, farmers should have access to drought-tolerant seeds, as well as information and incentives to shift to climate smart agricultural practices,” said Mugo.

As explained on, CIMMYT works with the African seed sector and national partners to develop and deploy stress resilient maize and wheat varieties through initiatives like stress tolerant maize for Africa and the wheat rust resistant seed scaling in Ethiopia.

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