Smallholders double yields with drought tolerant maize

The locally developed Wema conventional drought tolerant maize hybrids have proven to be a resounding success.

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Smallholder farmers who planted the first Wema variety doubled their yields despite the devastating drought that hit the summer grain production area during the 2014/2015 summer grain production season, according to an Agricultural Research Council (ARC) statement.

Some 10 000 packs of the DroughtTEGO WE3127 white maize variety were distributed to smallholder farmers in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal.

“The technology guaranteed output in difficult production seasons. We expect that more smallholder farmers will be enticed back into agriculture because of the increased yields,” said Dr Thula Dlamini, an agricultural economist from ARC.

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Smallholders at Mooifontein in the North West realised yields of 2 t/ha with the Wema hybrid with an average rainfall of 250 mm for the season.

The average rainfall is 500 mm in a normal year. Smallholders in Limpopo’s Mokopane district realised a yield of 1,14 t/ha compared to 0,6 t/ha during the previous season.

The DroughtTEGO hybrid was developed by the ARC under the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (Wema) project co-ordinated by the Kenya-based African Agricultural Technology Foundation.

Monsanto donated the insect protection and drought tolerance technologies to the project.

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Annelie Coleman represents Farmer’s Weekly in the Free State, North West and Northern Cape. Agriculture is in her blood. She grew up on a maize farm in the Wesselsbron district where her brother is still continuing with the family business. Annelie is passionate about the area she works in and calls it ‘God’s own country’. She’s particularly interested in beef cattle farming, especially with the indigenous African breeds. She’s an avid reader and owns a comprehensive collection of Africana covering hunting in colonial Africa, missionary history of same period, as well as Rhodesian literature.