Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA)

Africa is a drought-prone continent, making farming risky for millions of smallholder farmers who rely on rainfall to water their crops. Maize is the most widely grown staple crop in Africa – more than 300 million people in Africa depend on it as their main food source – but too often it is severely affected by frequent drought. Drought leads to crop failure, hunger, and poverty. Climate change will only worsen the problem.

Like drought, insects present a challenge for smallholder maize farmers in Africa, who have little or no resources to effectively manage them. During drought, maize that is able to survive becomes particularly susceptible to pests. These insects negatively impact yields, because they reduce maize plant’s ability to use the limited water and nutrients. In some cases, farmers effectively lose the whole crop.


The WEMA partnership was formed in response to a growing call by African farmers, leaders, and scientists to address the effects of drought and insect-pest pressure in a cost effective way for smallholder farmers in Africa.

Maize is the most widely grown food crop in Africa and its production is severely affected by drought and insect-pests, which negatively impact yields leading to crop failure, hunger and poverty.

Developing drought-tolerant and insect-pest protected maize hybrids, with the aim of improving yields under moderate drought stress and protecting it from insect damage.

The use of drought-tolerant and insect-pest protected maize will help in Protecting maize against climate change and insect damage is expected to increase yields by 20-35 percent in moderate drought conditions.
Also, it will provide an additional two million tonnes of maize that could feed 14 – 21 million people in the long-term

Additionally, a more reliable harvest will give farmers the confidence to invest in their farms and improve farming practices. Also, more reliable harvests with better grain quality due to reduced insect damage.
There will also be a reduced need for pesticide because the seed is insect-pest protected bringing environmental and human health benefits