MADAGASCAR – The Madagascan Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock has signed a cooperation agreement with the Zimbabwean seed company for the local production of new high-yield maize seed aimed at boosting food security, reports Ecofin Agency.

According to the statement from the ministry, the maize variety called “Mukushi” is drought resistant and has a short production hence suitable for short-term remedies.  

In addition, the ministry is hopeful that the new variety will be ideal to shield the country from the persistence and succession of extreme climatic phenomena that constitute a serious challenge for the local supply.

Maize is the third staple meal after rice and cassava for the Madagascan population.

In Madagascar, maize production fluctuates around 215,000 tonnes per year, while the cereal’s annual consumption needs amount to nearly 230,000 tonnes according to data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). 

On the Big Island, the cereal is mainly grown in the regions of the Middle West, the High Plateaux, and the South West, which provide more than 90% of the local supply.

However, the country has been facing erratic weather conditions that have led to a decline in production to below the 5-year average.

Additionally, the recurring occurrence of cyclone Freddy in February is expected to have caused disruptions to livelihoods and resulted in crop damage, aggravating the food insecurity in the South African country.

According to the press release, the new variety is envisioned to make it possible to obtain a yield of between 6 and 8 tons per hectare or up to three times that of conventional seeds. 

The aim is to increase production, reduce import from foreign countries and improve food security,” the statement also read

The World Food Program (WFP) estimates that nearly 1.47 million people in Madagascar need emergency food and nutritional aid in 2023.

This is following the episodes of extreme drought that have persisted in the country for the last four years, particularly in the south of the country.

The country is therefore devising raft measures to ensure the local population is well fed as well as halt the skyrocketing import bill.

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