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Africa's farmers will have room to grow

NAIROBI, Kenya, 29 Jan 2007 -- A vital research program that has already had significant impact on the lives of African farmers will accelerate its work for their benefit, thanks to new funding from one of the worlds most important philanthropic organizations, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The research also marks the forging of a strong, new partnership between the developing worlds premier research organizations dedicated to improving the livelihoods of farm families who rely on maizethe International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

The two centers will team with research partners in eleven of Africas most maize-dependent and drought-affected countries.

More than a quarter of a billion Africans depend on maize as their staple food, often eating a quarter kilo or more of maize and maize products every day. Any disruption in the supply of maize, either at the farm level or to the markets, has destructive consequences for the most vulnerable. Unpredictable rainfall, recurring drought, and loss of soil fertility have all made the maize harvests in Africa uncertain. Today, many farm families cannot grow enough food to last the year and do not have income to buy food. Accepting donated food aid is often the only way to survive. This robs families of their dignity and shackles development.

For more than a decade, CIMMYT and IITA, working in cooperation with a wide range of partners in countries throughout sub-Saharan Africa, have been developing solutions, in particular maize that can produce even during drought, for farm families who depend on maize for their food security and livelihoods. Farmers themselves participate in the breeding process, providing land for test plots and screening, and scoring potential new varieties. Thanks to the combined efforts of national agricultural research systems, non-government organizations, and seed companies in several
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Contact: David Mowbray
d.mowbray@cgiar.org
52-555-804-7668
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)
29-Jan-2007


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