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Uganda and Ethiopia teams win 2008 DTMA excellence awards

This year, the Uganda national team, comprising Nalweyo Seed Company (NASECO) and the National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI), scooped the Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa (DTMA) Project excellence award for development and dissemination in eastern Africa, while the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) Melkassa station team won the breeding excellence award for the second year running.

The DTMA initiated the regional team awards in 2007 for excellence in the breeding, development, and dissemination of drought tolerant maize varieties. These awards recognize and foster partnerships, team work, commitment, and excellence among DTMA’s in-country partners, which include maize breeders, seed companies, extension agents, nongovernmental organizations, and community-based organizations.

The winning teams are selected through a rigorous process against set criteria and awards were presented during gala dinners in Uganda and Ethiopia attended by in-country maize stakeholders, CIMMYT teams, and the media.

The Director General of Uganda’s National Agricultural Organization (NARO), Dr. Denis Kyetere, presented the award to the Ugandan team saying, “CIMMYT has had a successful collaboration with Uganda, dating back to the development and release of the country’s first maize varieties. I am glad that through the drought tolerant maize we can overcome the water challenges —those of shortages and management—and reach more farmers with this maize. I am glad that NASECO is one of the winners of this award and they have succeeded in effective seed production.” DTMA Project Leader Wilfred Mwangi said: “This win represents good cooperation between the national agricultural research institute and the private sector along the entire maize value chain, from breeding to getting the improved varieties to farmers’ fields and ultimately to farmers’ tables. I congratulate the NASECO and NaCCRI teams.”

In Ethiopia Dr. Adefris Teklewold, Crop Research Director at EIAR, congratulated Dr. Gezahegn Bogale, leader of the Melkassa breeders, confirming the importance of maize in Ethiopia and the continued collaboration between CIMMYT and the EIAR. “We are going to continue working with CIMMYT and other stakeholders to ensure that we get solutions to maize farmers’ problems,” said Adefris Teklewold. “We are proud of our maize teams, who have shown that agricultural investments and development are worthwhile in Ethiopia.” Echoing this sentiment, Mwangi said, “The leadership being provided for the Ethiopian maize working group generally and the breeding program at Melkassa, in particular, is exemplary. I congratulate the young, dynamic, and enthusiastic maize breeders for winning this award.” Dr. Gezahegn Bogale expressed gratitude “…for the support we have continued to receive from CIMMYT through the provision of improved maize germplasm, facilitation for our scientists through training, and the improvement of our facilities and capacity, especially for seed storage and irrigation.”