In an effort to promote quality protein maize (QPM), CIMMYT, in collaboration with the Agricultural Research and Extension Service (AREX) in Zimbabwe, recently held a workshop on QPM awareness. QPM contains enhanced levels of the amino acids lysine and tryptophan, which together with other amino acids in maize are essential for the production of protein in the human body. Protein malnutrition is a serious health problem in southern Africa.
In addition to promoting general awareness, the workshop concentrated on sensitizing and educating participants about the usefulness of QPM in both human and animal nutrition. It also stimulated discussion that organizers hoped would get people thinking about how to promote quality protein maize in Zimbabwe.
The workshop was attended by participants from the University of Zimbabwe, University of Midlands, poultry and livestock industry, departments of extension, researchers and NGOs. Presentations covered the development, utilization, and seed production of QPM. During the discussion it was clear that the participants saw the potential of QPM in mitigating malnutrition in Zimbabwe.
At present only one QPM openpollinated variety has been released in the country and there is a need to release more varieties. In the recent past the variety release committee has insisted on presentation of data from animal feeding trials for a variety to be released as a QPM variety.
However, during the course of the workshop (which was attended by several members of the variety release committee) it was agreed that a QPM variety could be released on the strength of its agronomic performance and high values of lysine and tryptophan from lab tests. High lysine and tryptophan in a QPM variety were seen as valueadded traits. It was agreed that feeding trials are no longer necessary as long as there is lab data to show that a candidate variety contains a high level of lysine and tryphtophan compared to non-QPM variety. At present QPM varieties have been released in Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Zambia.
Published in 2006