IITA hosts STMA 2019 Annual Planning Meeting
A 3-day planning meeting was carried out from 24 to 26 April to review project implementation progress and present work plans for the Stress Tolerant Maize for Africa (STMA) project activities in 2019. National Agricultural Research Institutes (NARIs) and universities in Benin, Ghana, Mali, and Nigeria are implementing the STMA project, which aims at contributing to livelihoods of smallholder farmers and many maize value-chain actors.
The objectives of the meeting were to present 2018 progress reports of STMA and the work plans for collaborative research projects in 2019, as well as to create a platform among partners for sustained collaboration, adaptation, and learning in effective implementation of the STMA project.
In his welcome address, Michael Abberton, Head of Genetic Resources Center, on behalf of Robert Asiedu, Director, Research for Development, West Africa said, “STMA is an example of IITA’s work and partnership to improve farming.” He emphasized the importance of maize in sub-Saharan Africa and the delight of IITA to partner with NARIs and seed companies towards achieving food security in Africa.
Participants included researchers and representatives of seed companies. The meeting featured presentations on collaborative research between the STMA project and partners, breakout sessions for countries to map out key interventions and draw up work plans for 2019, and general discussions. Gaps in project implementation were identified and strategies for implementation fashioned out.
During the final national working group session, Abebe Menkir, IITA Maize Breeder, enumerated the issues to consider while making plans for the Annual STMA meeting in Zambia, one of which is to indicate in figures the contribution of STMA to the economy of the host countries. IITA Maize Breeder and STMA Coordinator, Baffuor Badu-Apraku, gave a presentation of the funds allocated to the countries.
Some of the challenges of the project, as enumerated by research leaders, are inadequate seed and extension staff and insecurity caused by cattle rustlers and kidnapping in some countries. Another major challenge identified is the high cost of the variety release process and the fact that some of the variety release and registration committees do not meet.
In response to the high cost of variety release, it was recommended that IITA, through the STMA project, organize a policy workshop for Variety Release and Registration Committees to facilitate the release process. Other recommendations include commercialization of release varieties which could be facilitated through enacting Intellectual Property Rights law. Maize working groups were advised not to rely solely on IITA for all their germplasm.
On the third day of the meeting, awards were given to the Mali and Benin teams as the best breeding team and best technology dissemination team, respectively. In his closing remarks, David Chikoye, IITA Director of Research for Development, Southern Africa Hub, encouraged members to keep up the spirit for productive research.