By Jesus Madrazo
Vice President, Corporate Engagement
Improving lives of resource-poor farmers is one of Monsanto’s commitments to agriculture. Six years ago, with that commitment in mind, we partnered with the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (or AATF) on the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project to share pest-resistant and drought-tolerant maize seed varieties with Sub-Saharan African farmers.
Along with the AATF, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and five National Agricultural Research Systems Sub-Saharan Africa have joined us in this partnership to bring technology to smallholder farmers.
Yesterday, I was able to stand alongside some of these exceptional partners to accept the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN) Corporate Adaptation Award in Washington, D.C. The WEMA project partners are one of the 2013 winners of this award, an annual honor for contributions to awareness, science or action in creating resilience to climate change.
While not all of the WEMA partners were able to join us yesterday, they all deserve acknowledgment and we share this award with them. The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (or AATF), which is the WEMA project lead and based in Kenya. They are led by Executive Director Denis Kyetere and they’re pioneers in brokering innovative agricultural technologies to smallholder farmers. Another partner is the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. Howard is such a strong advocate for agriculture globally and a great WEMA partner.
ND-GAIN honored us for the partnership’s work in Kenya specifically, which is just one of the five participating WEMA countries. Right now in Kenya, the first round of seed from this partnership, which is under the brand name DroughtTEGO, is in the ground of smallholder farms. Our work there would not have been possible without the Kenyan government’s agricultural research arm, known as KARI. They have been instrumental in lending technical staff, which is led by Dr. Ephraim Mukisira, as well as their facilities to reach out and work to develop improved maize hybrids for smallholder farmers in Kenya. I would like to personally thank KARI for their hard work and support as well as the other four National Agricultural Research Systems within the partnership.
Our WEMA partners are great advocates for global agriculture. I’m so happy to celebrate this honor with them – and I look forward to celebrating the first WEMA harvest with them early next year.