New drought screening site launched in Zambia

CIMMYT’s Global Maize Program (GMP) recently inaugurated a research station in Nanga, Zambia as the newest site for screening drought tolerant maize in sub-Saharan Africa. Because of the region’s vulnerability to drought and its significant reliance on staple foods, such as maize, drought tolerant maize is an important initiative in southern Africa. Nanga, a national irrigation research station in Zambia, was chosen as a drought screening site by CIMMYT and the Zambian Agricultural Research Institute (ZARI) because it has well defined dry and rainy seasons, uniform soils, and a reliable irrigation source.

Members of the GMP and ZARI celebrated the occasion by hosting an inauguration ceremony on 29 September 2010 which welcomed the Honorable Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Enoch Embebe, several hundred farmers, the local chief, government officials, students of agricultural studies, and the surrounding community. Several CIMMYT staff including Boddupalli Prasanna, GMP director; Wilfred Mwangi, associate director and DTMA project leader; and Harare-based maize breeders John Macrobert and Amsal Tarekegne also attended.

The participants had a chance to experience the managed drought screening activities at the station as several CIMMYT and ZARI trials are currently underway. In a speech, Prasanna explained the importance of both parties’ investment at Nanga to develop drought tolerant maize, which will improve the livelihood of millions of resource-poor farmers in drought affected regions throughout sub-Saharan Africa. The participants shared eagerness to benefit from the station’s research.

The program concluded with votes of thanks by Prasanna and the Deputy Minister, both reiterating the value of partnership and the potential of Nanga’s new drought phenotyping platform to help millions of people in southern Africa.
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