Sowing New Seeds

Part of the Climate Change exhibition.

The Issue: Dying Crops

A woman and child harvest corn in the Dedza area of Malawi.
©Jorgen Schytte/Peter Arnold Inc.

Recurrent droughts disrupt southern Africa's essential maize crop.

The Strategy: Drought-resistant Seeds

Many farmers in southern African countries hope genetically modified maize (corn) will help them grow crops despite projected increases in drought. Pilot projects are now underway to determine which seeds are the most drought-resistant.

Maize (corn) is the staple food of millions of Africans, but recent droughts have hampered harvests. Experts predict that climate change could have a huge impact on food availability and quality in Africa, and water is perhaps the biggest limiting factor to a crop's success. The Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project is one group working to provide regional farmers with drought-resistant seeds for future food security. Will they take root soon enough?

From small plots to large industrial farms, like this one in South Africa, water is vital for growing maize. As climate change affects rainfall, farmers are looking to hi-tech answers such as genetically modified seeds for food security.