IITA improves maize genotypes in developing countries

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Yellow maize varieties are widely grown particularly in tropical lowlands of West and Central Africa, and they contain very low levels of provitamin A. CGIAR-IITA, in fulfilling its mandate to transform agriculture and increase food production, is developing a wide range of staple varieties and bio-fortified crops that address micronutrient deficiencies.

Using conventional breeding techniques, IITA researchers harnessed the novel genes controlling high levels of β-carotene and other carotenoids from both temperate and tropical maize germplasm to boost provitamin A in tropical-adapted maize. This has led to the development of many varieties and hybrids with increased provitamin A content without compromising in grain yield.

According to IITA’s Principal Scientist on Maize Breeding Program, Abebe Menkir, the Accelerated Breeding Initiative (ABI) has recorded remarkable success developing Striga-resistant, provitamin-A, enhanced and early maturing varieties, enabling maize production to expand into new areas in Sub Saharan Africa.

Through ABI project, 18 varieties and 22 hybrids with intermediate to high levels of provitamin A have been released in Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, and Zambia between 2012 to 2022.

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