The reality of the overall agricultural sector in the sub-Saharan region – and maize production in particular – is that it is largely rain-dependent. This leaves smallholder farmers vulnerable and at the mercy of erratic rains, drought and other climatic calamities. Of these, drought is one of the most devastating challenges, with many smallholders experiencing drought several times every decade.
Drought tolerant maize for farmer adaptation to drought in sub-Saharan Africa: Determinants of adoption in eastern and southern Africa
In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), Bmaize is life,^ due to its importance to food security and economic wellbeing. Around 40 % of Africa’s maize-growing area faces occasional drought stress, resulting in yield losses of 10–25 %. Around 25 % of the maize crop suffers frequent drought, with losses of up to half the harvest. To reduce vulnerability and improve food security, the Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa (DTMA) project has made releases of 160 drought tolerant (DT) maize varieties between 2007 and 2013.
Maize became increasingly important in the food security of Ethiopia following the major drought and famine that occurred in 1984. More than 9 million smallholder households, more than for any other crop in the country, grow maize in Ethiopia at present. Ethiopia has doubled its maize productivity and production in less than two decades. The yield, currently estimated at >3 metric tons/ha, is the second highest in Sub-Saharan Africa, after South Africa; yield gains for Ethiopia grew at an annual rate of 68 kg/ha between 1990 and 2013, only second to South Africa and greater than Mexico, China, or India.