High expectations among stakeholders asPhase II of the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project kicks off

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During 4-8 February 2013, stakeholders of the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project gathered in Nairobi, Kenya, for the Fifth Review and Planning Meeting to discuss achievements and challenges of the recently concluded WEMA Phase I (2008-2013) and to plan for the second phase of the project (2013-2017) which begins in March this year. In the past four years, WEMA has made several key achievements, including the successful application and approval of permits to conduct confined field trials for transgenic varieties in Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa. Kenya and Uganda are now in their third year of trials, South Africa in its fourth. The project has also managed to submit conventional drought tolerant maize hybrids into the national performance trials in Kenya. “It is expected that farmers will have these WEMA conventional maize seeds by 2014,” says Denis Kyetere, African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) executive director. CKH110078, one of the hybrids developed from the Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa (DTMA) materials, is in its final stage of approval in Kenya.

Emily Twinamasiko, Uganda’s National Agricultural Research Organization director general and WEMA Executive Advisory Board chair, was pleased with the achievements made in 2012 and commended all teams and the operations committee for their great efforts. Natalie DiNicola, Monsanto vice president for Africa and Europe, commented on the indicators of success: “The project will never be successful until the farmer has a product to plant and options to choose from.” Getting the seed to the farmers was stressed also by Ephraim Mukisira, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) director, who called for speedy deployment of the varieties: “KARI wants to see the product with the farmer. The scientists must work hard so that impact can be seen and be seen today.”

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