AATF receives grant for drought-tolerant maize

Written By: Judith Akolo

KALRO: GMO maize is resistant to drought, diseases and pests like the Fall Armyworm
KALRO: GMO maize is resistant to drought, diseases and pests like the Fall Armyworm

The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) receives grant to make new drought-tolerant and insect-resistant maize hybrids available to farmers in Africa.

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AATF has been awarded a US$24.6 million grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the commercialization of insect-resistant and drought-tolerant maize in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The new maize hybrids have been enhanced through biotechnology to improve their drought tolerance and ability to resist attacks by insects. 

The seeds have been tested in field trials in Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, and Uganda, and shown increased drought tolerance, excellent protection against stem borers, and partial but significant protection against the newest menace, Fall Armyworm.

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Approximately 15% of the maize harvest in East Africa is lost to stem borers each year. 

The Fall Armyworm threatens to destroy up to 25% more of the harvest.

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“Drought is becoming more frequent because of climate change,” said Dr Denis Kyetere, the Executive Director of AATF and added, “The new maize hybrids offer significant protection from these threats and can help protect the harvest and the livelihoods of African farmers.”

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Dr Kyetere, said the grant would support the organization and its partners in moving the hybrid variety products to smallholder farmers who are most affected by frequent droughts and insect menace.

“This is indeed great news for AATF, smallholder farmers and our partners. We are pleased that the Gates Foundation and USAID value the role of biotechnology in addressing the effects of climate change across the continent. With continued support of various country governments, we believe, we shall offer dependable solutions within five years,” said Dr. Kyetere.

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With the grant, AATF and its partners intends to pursue the regulatory approval and dissemination of the new biotech seeds across the six partner countries in Africa.

The Project partners include National Agriculture Research systems in the six countries, Monsanto, CIMMYT and African seed companies.

AATF coordinates the partnership.


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