Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA)
In Africa, maize (also referred to as corn) is the main source of food for more than 300 million people. However, the production of maize in this area can be challenging due to the lack of rainfall and poor access to seed varieties.
The WEMA project, a collaborative effort, strives to improve food security and livelihoods among smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa by developing hybrid maize seed that uses water more efficiently and resists insect pests. The WEMA partnership works to develop seed (both conventionally produced and improved through biotechnology) for African farmers under the TELA™ and DroughtTEGO™ brands, respectively.
The collaboration makes the seed products available to African seed companies of all sizes, royalty free, so they can offer these hybrid seeds to smallholder farmers. Since the inception of the project in 2013, more than 90 conventional DroughtTEGO hybrids have been approved for commercial release in Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. Many seed companies now license these new hybrids and make them commercially available to African farmers – without paying a royalty to Monsanto.
Farmers using DroughtTEGO hybrids have been able to harvest 20 to 35 percent more grain under moderate drought conditions as compared to the seeds they had historically planted.
WEMA introduced its first TELA brand white maize hybrids developed using biotechnology in South Africa in October 2016 to address insect pest challenges. Insect-protected maize has been grown widely in other areas of the world for about two decades. TELA brand hybrids are intended to be introduced (pending regulatory approvals) in other African countries within the next few years.
DroughtTEGO hybrids have positively impacted the lives of approximately 250,000 sub-Saharan African farming families and more than 1.5 million people.
- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
- Howard G. Buffett Foundation
- United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
- National Agricultural Research Institutes in Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda
- International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)