By Lim Li Ching, Senior Researcher, Third World Network
Climate change is an urgent challenge facing farmers in Africa. As our world warms, many farmers are already experiencing devastating consequences, including storms, drought, floods, heat waves and extreme weather events. The implications for food security are severe, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projecting that wheat, rice and maize production will be negatively impacted by local temperature increases of 2°C or more above levels in the late twentieth century. Coupled with a predicted reduction in renewable surface water and groundwater resources in most dry subtropical regions, the prospects for agriculture are grim and extremely worrying.
Into this context enters the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project. The objective of the WEMA project is to produce drought-tolerant and insect-protected maize varieties, both conventional and genetically modified (GM). According to its proponents, these varieties “will provide valuable economic, agronomic and environmental1 benefits to millions of farmers by helping them produce more reliable harvests under moderate drought conditions and better grain quality due to reduced insect damage. This will help farmers harvest enough to feed their families, a surplus which they can sell to increase their incomes, and help strengthen