By: CropLife International
How plant science can help Ugandans feed their families and increase climate – resilience.
Meet Dr. Michael Otim, a Crop Entomologist at the National Crops Institute. Dr. Otim works in Uganda, where droughts affected close to 2.4 million people between 2004 and 2013. He is part of the Water Efficient Maize for Africa project which is working to develop drought-resistant maize.
This research will be vital for families like Grace Maku’s. Like most Ugandans, Grace Maku and her family rely on the maize they grow on their farm to both feed themselves and be their primary source of income.
As Grace explains, climate change is putting her maize farming at risk:
“DROUGHT SIMPLY DRIES UP THE MAIZE. SOMETIMES WE HAVE TO GET WATER AND TRY TO IRRIGATE, BUT THAT’S NEVER EASY HERE.”
This is where drought-resistant crops could greatly improve her life. Some estimates suggest that drought-resistant maize could reduce up to 25% of crop loss. Innovations like this are essential to ensuring we meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal on Zero Hunger.
When maize is successfully harvested, it is often milled at places like Nakatundu Maize Millers in Kiwenda, Uganda. Over two million Ugandans count on maize as their main source of income, with agriculture accounting for almost 30% of the nation’s GDP.
Mitigating the impact of climate change and drought on crops like maize would mean increased demand for millers and increased economic activity – benefiting all Ugandans.
From Dr. Michael Otim’s lab, into Grace Maku’s field, all the way to Agnes Makilumda’s (pictured above) table, maize’s journey from the field to the plate is an important one
As global climate continues to change, and it becomes harder to harvest maize and other crops through drought, floods, and other natural disasters, biotech can help ensure our food’s journey is not interrupted.