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Workshop on abiotic stress tolerant maize

A total of 16 breeders, agronomists, physiologists, and socio-economists from public and private sectors attended a workshop on abiotic stress tolerant maize on 11-12 November 2008 at the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), Gazipur, Bangladesh. The workshop was given by CIMMYT’s Asian Regional Maize Program (ARMP) and BARI and organized under the GTZ-funded project “Abiotic Stress Tolerant Maize for Improving Maize Productivity in Eastern Indian and Bangladesh.” The German Society for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) is an international cooperation enterprise with a corporate objective to improve people’s living conditions on a sustainable basis.

“Maize has emerged as the second most important crop after rice,” said Dr. Azizur Rahman, BARI research director. “But more than 80% of maize is grown during the winter cycle, strongly competing with our main food staple crop, rice,” he said. Thus, the GTZ project aims to develop new maize varieties suitable for cultivation during the summer as most of the cultivated land goes fallow during this time. “Abiotic stress tolerant maize suitable for growing during the summer season will certainly be a boon for the food security of Bangladesh,” said Rahman.

During the workshop participants listened to lectures and learned tools and techniques for stress breeding, conservation agriculture (CA), and socio-economics. P.H. Zaidi, maize physiologist from CIMMYT-Hyderabad, India and coordinator of the GTZ project, spoke about abiotic stress breeding, stress management, screening techniques, selection criteria, breeding methodology, and demonstrated basic tools and techniques involved in developing drought and waterlogging tolerant maize germplasm. Other speakers included Ken Sayre, CIMMYT agronomist, Enam-ul Haq, senior program officer for CIMMYTBangladesh, and Olaf Erenstein, CIMMYT-India economist.

Participants agreed that the right cultivar under the right agronomic management is a strong concept, and that stress tolerant maize grown with resource-efficient agronomic practices will certainly result in multiplicative outcomes. “I am confident that by next year we will be able show output of this training, which will certainly be translated into outcomes,” said Mr. Salimuddin, BARI maize breeder, who participated in the course.