Recovering from drought and conflict
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CTA. 1993. Recovering from drought and conflict. Spore 44. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/49102
During the 1991-92 growing season southern Africa suffered the worst drought this century. Throughout much of the region rainfall was insufficient for sowing crops. Even when there was some rain, it was not enough to mature the crop. By Februarv...
During the 1991-92 growing season southern Africa suffered the worst drought this century. Throughout much of the region rainfall was insufficient for sowing crops. Even when there was some rain, it was not enough to mature the crop. By Februarv 1992 it was clear that the availability of seed after the drought was going to be a serious problem: farmers had been forced to eat the seeds they had saved for sowing. Working with southern African policy makers, scientists at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) based at Matopos, Zimbabwe, initiated a project to combine production and distribution of seed to farmers with the opportunity to introduce improved cultivars to the region. An arrangement was made with the Zimbabwe Seed Cooperative, a government agency, to produce sufficient seed of PMV 2, SADC/ ICRISAT's recently released pearl millet variety, for sowing over 25% of the pearl millet hectarage in that country. This variety was selected because of its good performance in Zimbabwe. When Malawi, Namibia and Zambia also became interested in the project, it became necessary to identify additional varieties that had been adopted by farmers in these countries and for which seed was available for multiplication. In the end a total of three pearl millet varieties and four sorghum releases were selected, for which four tons of seed were available. The Gwembi Valley Development Company of Zambia provided nearly 1000 hectares on the shore of Lake Kariba to SADC/ICRISAT for seed production. Irrigation was accomplished by digging an access channel from Lake Kariba. The lake water was then pumped into wheeled irrigation booms which were moved around circular fields one kilometre in diameter. Despite the prolonged drought which severely reduced water availability from the lake a total of nearly 930 tonnes of seed were produced from the Gwembi Valley site. The seed has been handed over to the governments of the four participating countries who in turn have distributed it to farmers in drought afflicted areas. A smaller seed production scheme, with similar objectives, has also been established in Malawi. A lack of seed of local varieties has also arisen in the Horn of Africa, but there the disaster is not due to natural causes. In the wake of the conflict in Somalia many farmers have avoided famine by eating seed they would otherwise have sown. Seed of maize and sorghum varieties from neighbouring countries have been distributed to farmers by relief organizations, but these imported varieties are not all adapted to the local environment and may not show resistance to local pests and diseases. Although Somalia's national seed collections have been looted, sorghum and maize seed was taken from Somalia in 1989 and stored in Kenya. An international project is now underway, coordinated by the International Board for Plant Genetic Resources (IBPGR) which will bulk up seed of the Somalian varieties so that large quantities can eventually be transported back to Somalia. ICRISAT Patancheru Andhra Pradesh 502 324 INDIA IBPGR Via delle Sette Chiese 142 00145 Rome ITALY