CIMMYT staff in Ethiopia recently participated in field days organized by the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) showcasing newly-released highland maize varieties based on CIMMYT materials. The first, held near Ambo on 14 October, was attended by Strafford Twumasi-Afriyie, CIMMYT maize breeder based in Ethiopia. Some 1000 people attended the second field day near Bu’i on 21 October, including Twumasi and Dennis Friesen, agronomist and CIMMYT liaison officer in Ethiopia.
“There is great enthusiasm from farmers, especially those who could not believe that maize could be grown at their altitude [about 2,700 m]. There is strong demand to further expand the technology next year,” says Friesen.
These new varieties are the result of a program of collaborative research begun in 1998 by CIMMYT and EIAR to develop maize varieties suitable for the highlands of Ethiopia and other central and eastern African countries. Considerable investment from both partners led to the release in 2005 of one new hybrid variety, AMH800 (known locally as Arganne), and one open-pollinated variety, AMB02SYN1, known as Hora.
Around 550 farmers have participated with EIAR in scaling up, including around 60 who have planted demonstration plots in the Bu’i area and similar numbers near Ambo.
The field days were held to demonstrate the new highland maize varieties’ performance and potential to help lift farmers out of poverty. Farmers, researchers, cooperative and union members, administrators, educators, and development partners have all attended and shared their experiences. A number of dignitaries, including members of parliament, were also present.