Unprecedented droughts have hit Uganda’s farmers hard in recent years, affecting household income and food security by drastically cutting maize yields, a staple crop in the country. In 2016, at least 1.3 million people in Uganda faced hunger and urgently needed food aid after a dry spell decimated harvests, leaving some with less than one meal per day. When MLN, a maize disease with the ability to cause extreme or complete crop loss in maize, arrived in Uganda in 2013, farmers needed a variety that could cope.
Enter, “bazooka,” a new maize variety that is giving hope to Ugandan farmers facing climate change-related drought and MLN.
300 million people depend on maize as their main food source in sub-Saharan Africa, where many smallholder farmers do not have access to irrigation systems, and extended drought can be a death sentence for their crops. Now, with new drought tolerant varieties such as bazooka, they can expect better harvests.