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DTMA III holds annual meeting

The Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa (DTMA) Initiative held its first annual meeting of phase 3 during 24- 28 September 2012 at the Nairobi Safari Club Hotel in Kenya. The meeting was attended by 83 participants representing national programs, training institutions from DTMA partner countries (Angola, Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe), project’s advisory board members, and seed companies. The participants reviewed and discussed the progress made during the first year of the project, and visited the Western Seed company production fields in Rongai, Nakuru County.

DTMA has produced 105 maize varieties, 48 hybrids, and 57 open-pollinated varieties between 2007 and 2012. In addition, the project has trained technicians, breeders, and seed companies in seed business management in Eastern, Western, and Southern Africa. The meeting highlighted the varieties developed by DTMA for drought-prone areas, whose performance also matches or exceeds that of commercial varieties under optimum conditions. In Southern Africa, on-farm trials of drought-tolerant (DT) hybrids produced 20-30 % more yield than the common check variety. In Western Africa, DT open-pollinated varieties produced up to 40 % more yield than farmer varieties during on-farm trials.

There is a surge in new DT varieties, particularly hybrids, being registered and coming into production in all DTMA countries. In addition, uptake of DT lines by companies holding important market shares (e.g. Seed Co and Kenya Seed Company) is increasing. The total production of DT varieties in the 13 DTMA countries reached more than 25,000 MT in 2012, with the largest amount being produced in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Malawi. Seed policy workshops have created conditions for national governments to address maize seed sector development.