During the week of 18-22 June 2012, the Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa (DTMA) project leader Tsedeke Abate, accompanied by CIMMYT maize breeder Cosmos Magorokosho and socioeconomist Girma Tesfahun visited Angola, where they received a warm welcome from the government. Dibanzilua Nginamau, from DTMA in Angola, accompanied them on their visit. The trip provided the DTMA team an opportunity to dialogue with government officials and seed company representatives.
The DTMA team met with the permanent secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MOARDF), José Rodrígues Prata Junior, on 19 June 2012. Prata Junior expressed his enthusiasm about working with CIMMYT and said that he is keenly following DTMA work with the Instituto de Investigaçao Agronómica (IIA). Maize is crucial to the Angolan economy; last year, the country imported 700,000 metric tons of maize grain. In 2011, DTMA facilitated the purchase of 14 tons of basic seed of the drought tolerant open pollinated variety ZM 523 (a CIMMYT-derived variety) from Agri Seed, a Zimbabwean company.
The team also attended the Angola National Coordinating Unit meeting at IIA-Huambo, opened by the institute’s director general Mpanzo Domingos and which brought together DTMA national partners. The team met with Antonio Faceira, the proprietor of Mundo Verde, a private company that works with DTMA in Angola.
Last year, Faceira supplied 600 tons of ZM 523 to the government at no cost for distribution to smallholder farmers. Next year, he hopes to expand this to 2,000 tons. The DTMA team visited the Mundo Verde farm which has an average yield for maize of 8 t/ha (the current national yield is about 0.7 t/ha).
The CIMMYT team, accompanied by Nginamau and Faceira, had a second meeting with Prata Junior on 22 June 2012. Thanking him for the warm welcome and willingness to support DTMA work in Angola, Abate pointed out the need for favorable policies on variety release and the involvement of the private sector in developing a sustainable seed production and delivery system. Discussions during the meeting also emphasized the need for the agriculture ministry to set targets for increasing the maize yield within the next five years. Abate reiterated CIMMYT’s willingness to offer technical support towards achieving the government’s goal of accelerated maize production. Prata Junior welcomed the suggestions and asked for immediate support in capacity building. He also emphasized the need for the capacity to produce basic seed within Angola and pointed out that the country is importing an additional 20,000 tons seed for the coming season. Prata Junior said the introduction of early-maturing hybrids would be highly appreciated in light of recurrent droughts in the country. He also pledged to follow up with the MOARDF for the large-scale dissemination of DTMA varieties.