Increasing maize varietal turnover in sub‐Saharan Africa – CIMMYT Increasing maize varietal turnover in sub‐Saharan Africa – CIMMYT

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Increasing maize varietal turnover in sub‐Saharan Africa

July 27, 2020 @ 10:30 am - 12:30 pm EAT

Seed systems deploy CIMMYT-derived climate-resilient varieties to farmers through private-public partnerships and also strengthen local maize seed production and delivery system. As the new varieties are made available to the market, old varieties become obsolete and need to be replaced at regular interval. In developed world, maize yields have increased more than three-fold since the early 1960s driven by rapid varietal replacement and improved agronomic management. In Africa maize yields have shown limited incremental growth and remained nearly stagnant for decades. One of the major reasons for this could be that seed markets in Africa are characterized by extremely slow varietal turnover. For example, recent studies indicate the average age of maize varieties to be above 14 years in eastern and southern Africa. Slow varietal turnover exposes African farmers to the risk associated with climate change because farmers are growing varieties which were not originally bred for the present climate. Though significant genetic gains in maize yields have been achieved through breeding in Africa in both on-station and on-farm trials, including under low input and drought conditions, except a few countries, this genetic has not translated into more smallholder farmers’ productivity.

In order to have higher impact through delivery of client-oriented products with high potential for adoption by farmers and enhance varietal turnover in SSA, CIMMYT has re-oriented its variety development strategy towards a “Product Profile” approach to generate new, stable and high-yielding maize varieties. A Product Profile is a combination of basic (must-have) traits and value-added traits being targeted in a new variety that can replace a current market-leading product in a target production zone.

Hence, as part of this effort, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) will conduct an international online webinar to share experience with its partners on “Increasing maize varietal turnover in sub-Saharan Africa’’ on 27th July 2020, 10:30 am Nairobi time/9:30 am Harare time/1:00 pm India time.

Objectives include discussions on:

  1. Major bottlenecks affecting varietal replacement in Africa maize seed industry.
  2. Varietal replacement and product profile management: rationale and process.
  3. Accelerating maize varietal turnover – Issues and opportunities.
  4. Perceived effective strategic pathways to accelerate varietal turnover in ESA.

This webinar will provide an opportunity to learn from the broad range of experiences from CIMMYT and its partners (seed companies and NARS). The webinar will facilitate the exchange of knowledge and experiences on “Increasing maize varietal turnover in sub-Saharan Africa’’ from subject matter specialists and practical experiences from seed industry players and NARS partners followed by discussions and Q&A.


  • John MacRobert, MD of Mukushi Seeds
  • Alphonse Laboso, Head R&D of Kenya Seed Company
  • Saleem Ismail, CEO of Western Seed Company
  • Nicolai Rodeyns, MD of NASECO
  • John Derera, Global Research Head of Seed Co
  • Berhanu Tadesse, National Maize Research Program Coordinator, Bako National Maize Research Center, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research


July 27, 2020. 10:30 am Nairobi time, 9:30 am Harare time, 1:00 pm Delhi time.

Register for the webinar

Download the flyer with more information about the webinar: Increasing maize varietal turnover in sub-Saharan Africa.


July 27, 2020
10:30 am - 12:30 pm




CGIAR Excellence in Breeding (EIB) Platform