By Florence Sipalla and Jill Cairns/CIMMYT
CIMMYT scientists working on the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) have identified the most suitable maize varieties for high temperature and drought-prone environments in Zimbabwe. The scientists have been conducting research on drought- and heat-tolerant maize varieties in areas that are vulnerable to climate variability and climate change in Zimbabwe. Working in collaboration with Sustainable Agriculture Technology (SAT), a local NGO, the scientists are testing the suitability of drought- and heat-tolerant varieties as a solution to challenges farmers face in “climate hotspots.” These farmers are vulnerable to climate change due to erratic and limited rainfall, a situation that is worsened by increasing temperatures. “To identify these areas, we looked at climate change patterns across Zimbabwe which allowed us to identify five wards: Bikita, Gokwe, Gutu, Mutare and Zaka,” said CIMMYT physiologist Dr. Jill Cairns. The scientists then downscaled projections of monthly changes in rainfall and temperature in these wards to confirm their vulnerability and get a better understanding of the seasonal changes likely to occur by 2050.