Prediction of exacerbated drought in Africa due to climate change is apparently the driving force behind the establishment of the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) initiative, another prong of the so-called ‘New Green Revolution for Africa’
WEMA seeks to develop drought tolerant maize varieties through a program which is being presented as a panacea for solving issues of hunger on the continent using marker assisted breeding and genetic engineering. That this is being done under the guise of philanthropy sidesteps questions about the real causes of hunger, disregards issues of imbalanced global distribution of food and underplays the financial benefits to be derived by the various proponents of the scheme.
The possible risks to small-scale farmers, whom WEMA targets, include loss of biodiversity through gene flow, a dependence on expensive inputs into farming, possible exposure to intellectual and property rights claims and impacts on their food security. The most effective ways of supporting small-scale farmers is through agro-ecological approaches to farming.
These focus on small-scale sustainable agriculture; locally adapted seed and ecological farming that better addresses the complexities of climate change, hunger, poverty and productive demands on agriculture in the developing world.