Crop Biotech Update

Malawi's Agriculture Ministry Releases Drought-Proof Maize Varieties

March 27, 2009

Farmers in Malawi will soon reap the benefits of growing drought-tolerant maize varieties. The country's Agriculture Ministry has recently released two drought-proof maize varieties in the Balaka District, a drought-prone region in Southern Malawi. The varieties, developed by the Agriculture Ministry in collaboration with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), can tolerate the region's dry, infertile soil. Both are open pollinated varieties. They are also resistant to an array of diseases that plague maize crops in sub-Saharan Africa, including the maize streak virus and the gray leaf spot.

According to Africa News Science, the new maize varieties will be included in Malawi's national agricultural input subsidy program. This program is credited as being the force behind the country's food self sufficiency. Agriculture Secretary Andrew Daudi said,  "Farmers have embraced these new varieties and have even given them local names, meaning that they appreciate them, especially ZM 309, an early maturing, dwarf and disease-resistant variety."

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