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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

AGRA, Mozambique boost smallholder farmers with maize, sweet potato varieties

The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) is collaborating with the government of Mozambique, to boost small holder farmers with maize, sweet potato varieties through the Umbeluzi Agriculture Research Centre in Maputo.
This was revealed during a field visit by participants at the just ended 2013 African Green Revolution Forum organized by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
NaijaAgroNet recalls that the forum was in collaboration with the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) of NEPAD with some staff joining in the field visit penultimate Tuesday, September 3, 2013.
Also gathered by NaijaAgroNet was that the maize and sweet potato breeding projects centre visited by were projects supported by AGRA at Umbeluzi Agriculture Research Centre.
Leading the participants into the project, Dr Pedro Fato, who has been breeding maize for over 20 years, said that his work at Umbeluzi entails breeding maize that is tolerant to multiple constraints such as down mildew, and pests that are prevalent both in the field and in storage.
Dr Fato equally said that down mildew is especially prevalent in low lying areas in Mozambique, hence the importance of this project in Mozambique that has a high number of areas that often get water logged.
Dr Fato further elucidated that down mildew is carried on through seeds, and the maize breeding project has so far produced twelve maize varieties. 

According to him, the focus of this breeding project is small scale farmers who make up 90 per cent of maize growers in Mozambique, even as the project has so far released five hybrids into the market since 2002.

He stressed the varieties are now producing better yields per hectare as testified by local farmers.

Commenting, AGRA representative, Mr Richard Mwanza, pointed out that AGRA supports programmes in 16 countries across the continent.
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Pix: Mr Richard Mwanza of AGRA

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