Sustainable Agriculture Technology

CIMMYT-CCAFS Scientists Identify Maize Varieties That Can Withstand Drought and High Temperatures in Zimbabwe

By Florence Sipalla and Jill Cairns/CIMMYT

Schoolchildren sang a song they composed about climate change and agriculture at a field day in Gokwe, Zimbabwe.

Schoolchildren singing a song they composed about climate change and agriculture at a field day in Gokwe, Zimbabwe.

CIMMYT scientists working on the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) have identified the most suitable maize varieties for high temperature and drought-prone environments in Zimbabwe. The scientists have been conducting research on drought- and heat-tolerant maize varieties in areas that are vulnerable to climate variability and climate change in Zimbabwe. Working in collaboration with Sustainable Agriculture Technology (SAT), a local NGO, the scientists are testing the suitability of drought- and heat-tolerant varieties as a solution to challenges farmers face in “climate hotspots.” These farmers are vulnerable to climate change due to erratic and limited rainfall, a situation that is worsened by increasing temperatures. “To identify these areas, we looked at climate change patterns across Zimbabwe which allowed us to identify five wards: Bikita, Gokwe, Gutu, Mutare and Zaka,” said CIMMYT physiologist Dr. Jill Cairns. The scientists then downscaled projections of monthly changes in rainfall and temperature in these wards to confirm their vulnerability and get a better understanding of the seasonal changes likely to occur by 2050.

In this maize demonstration plot, crop management was done using hand weeding.