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May 26, 2010

Maize is staple food to 300 million Africans

by Daniel Essiet

The International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) said maize serves as staple food for more than 300 million of Africa’s most vulnerable inhabitants, and the most important food staple on the continent.

In one of her collaborative study, the institute said there were striking economic and poverty benefits in Nigeria, Kenya, and Malawi. It said this is an indication of the amount of maize sown in those countries and its importance in local diets and livelihoods.

The study showed that the development, deployment and cultivation of drought tolerant maize varieties can significantly profit sub-Saharan Africa’s maize farmers and consumers, reducing their vulnerability.

IITA said it has begun follow-up research to measure potential benefits from such factors as area expansion effects, increased cropping diversity(households can meet their maize requirements from a smaller portion of their land, freeing up space to sow other crops), and increased investments in fertiliser and other improvements.

"We expect that farmers who adopt drought tolerant maize, will continue to grow it beyond 2016, and even more farmers will begin to use it," La Rovere, one of the experts, said, adding, "this means the benefits and returns on investments from this work would grow significantly over time."

The study, revealed that drought tolerant maize will greatly profit African farmers. The multi-disciplinary study include experts from IITA; the University of Georgia, USA; and the International Food

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