Climate change: DFID wins award for maize project

21st Mar 2012

The Department for International Development has won Best Technological Breakthrough at the Climate Week Awards for a project to develop drought-tolerant maize in Africa.

Developed by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) and supported by UK aid and other donors, the new kind of maize needs far less water in the soil than normal maize. As well as growing it year round, it also means the maize can withstand times of severe drought.

The Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell said: "I am delighted that UK-backed research into maize has won.

"Support from DFID has helped give farmers across 13 African countries 34 different drought tolerant maize varieties. More than 2 million smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa are growing the new varieties and have experienced the benefits firsthand.

"Experts predict that natural disasters such as floods will increase, destroying crops and livelihoods. This and other projects have the potential to lift millions of people out of poverty and prevent the extreme hunger caused when rising temperatures and prolonged drought cause crops to fail.

"Last year's famine in Africa showed the horrendous human cost that droughts can cause. Thanks to British taxpayers, farmers in the world's poorest countries can adapt to a changing climate and ensure their communities are fed."

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