Beyond breeding: the potential of improved postharvest storage techniques for smallholder farmers
In the early days of organizations like the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), the answer to improving global food security was obvious. Help people grow more food. Today the situation is far more complex. Many exciting developments in breeding are either protective or corrective in nature. Stress-tolerant seed varieties are meant to help protect against the worst effects of global climate change. Efforts to develop widely cultivatable, high-yielding varieties based on local landraces seek to reintroduce some of the biodiversity lost through the runaway success of just a handful of commercial varieties.
Yet problems of food insecurity and poverty persist, not least among smallholders. The good news is that it is precisely among these farmers that important gains remain to be made, especially if we consider the many steps from planting to final consumption where technical and processual improvements can be made. “Just having a seed is not sufficient,” said CIMMYT postharvest specialist Sylvanus Odjo. “Of course having good seed is important, but you also need good agronomic practices.”