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CIMMYT-Colombia maize enters the coffee zone

The June 2007 edition of the Colombian publication “Agricultura & Ganadería” (www. agriculturayganaderia.com) carried a report on the recently-released maize hybrid FNC 3056, developed for cropping between coffee rows in fields where coffee plants have been pruned. The practice was adopted with government support several years ago by Colombian coffee growers, who would previously leave the unused rows to weeds, and has added to their profits and to the incomes and food security of the many thousand laborers they employ. Like several other maize varieties for this niche, the hybrid was developed by Colombia’s National Federation of Cereal and Legume Producers (FENALCE), as part of its long-time partnership with CIMMYT, and drew on CIMMYT germplasm.

“The varieties are high-yielding and resistant to two locally harmful maize diseases—tar spot and gray leaf spot,” says Luis Narro, CIMMYT maize specialist in South America.

According to the publication, the area sown to maize in coffee-growing zones of Colombia has increased from 30,000 hectares in 2003 to more than 60,000 in 2006. Eight-tenths of that area is sown to the variety ICA V305, released in 1993 and developed from CIMMYT sources.

Colombian President Álvaro Uribe has said he would like to see 120,000 hectares of improved maize grown in coffee zones by 2008. If this occurs, it will be due partly to the productivity and quality of the maize varieties, which under the coffee farmers’ excellent management yield as much as 9 tons per hectare, and to excellent partnerships with FENALCE and the National Federation of Colombian Coffee Growers (FEDERECAFE).