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Growing corn in challenging environments helping conserve energy

How This Global Crop Is Going Local

 

There was a time, not long ago, when countries like Nepal could only turn to South America for maize. Shipping containers filled with this crop would leave the port city of Sao Paulo and begin the over 9,000-mile journey to central Asia. As one would imagine, this lengthy journey across two oceans and around the continent of Africa leads to a sizable carbon footprint. Nepal serves as an example of how growing closer, can help modern agriculture make progress in conserving energy—but how?

Global trade for maize has increased steadily since 1980. In order to meet growing demand in a more efficient manner, modern agriculture has been working to reduce the distance traveled by maize.
[unex_ce_article_full_width_photo layer-name="Layer Name" img="2993" image-filename="IMG_3686_2_Filter_Flatten-1.jpg" id="content_z76x1677c" post_id="1234"] <h5><span style="color:#FFFFFF;">Global trade for maize has increased steadily since 1980. In order to meet growing demand in a more efficient manner, modern agriculture has been working to reduce the distance traveled by maize.</span></h5> [/ce_article_full_width_photo]

Fortunately for Nepal, the neighboring nation of India is fast becoming a maize-growing powerhouse. The third largest state, Bihar, has recently produced yields rivaling the Corn Belt states of Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas. Access to seed bred specifically for the tropical conditions of this region, along with good farming practices have allowed India to do the miraculous—export surplus maize to neighboring countries.

[unex_ce_indent_outdent_images layer-name="Layer Name" headline_markup="" img="2994" image-filename="Corn_RC_OPF_General_GrowerStandNextCornPeelHusk_001_Filter_Flatten-2-1.jpg" image_caption="Image Caption Text" image_caption_color="white" id="content_ddmfmsj3y" post_id="1234"] <p>Fortunately for Nepal, the neighboring nation of India is fast becoming a maize-growing powerhouse. The third largest state, Bihar, has recently produced yields rivaling the Corn Belt states of Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas. Access to seed bred specifically for the tropical conditions of this region, along with good farming practices have allowed India to do the miraculous—export surplus maize to neighboring countries.</p> [/ce_indent_outdent_images]
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When it comes to curtailing energy consumption in modern agriculture, traveling fewer miles is extremely effective. Certain delicacies like chocolate, tropical fruits, or truffles may always be confined to a specific region, but with the advent of genetic sequencing, select crops can be fine-tuned to thrive in many different environments. In cases like India, breakthroughs in plant genetics allow farmers to grow not only for the world, but for their community.

What was once shipped halfway around the world, can now be adapted to grow on nearby farms.
[unex_ce_article_full_width_photo layer-name="Layer Name" img="2995" image-filename="port_FNL-1.jpg" id="content_07qdgo8q7" post_id="1234"] <h5><span style="color:#FFFFFF;">What was once shipped halfway around the world, can now be adapted to grow on nearby farms.</span></h5> [/ce_article_full_width_photo]

Strength in Stability

Sub-Saharan Africa is also looking to grow crops in closer proximity but one challenge consistently stands in the way. The ever-looming reality of drought has time and again made farming in this region especially risky and prone to failure. White maize, a staple to the diet of over 300 million Africans is frequently affected by these extended dry seasons.

When drought strikes, Africans often import maize from across the Atlantic — U.S. and Mexico.

Importing is costly for Africa in time, money, and productivity. But expense is also incurred via emissions. Shipping anything thousands of miles requires significant amounts of energy and carbon to be released into the atmosphere. The region is in need of a more reliable and efficient method of providing maize.

WATER EFFICIENT MAIZE FOR AFRICA [WEMA]

In support of the many smallholder farmers facing this challenge, leaders in plant breeding, environmental science, and agronomy are seeking a solution. Among other methods, WEMA is developing varieties of maize that tolerate moderate drought conditions. With newfound resilience, this adapted white maize can provide a precious resource: more time. As farmers wait for rainfall, this variety can better endure the hardship.

Image Caption Text

[unex_ce_side_by_side_images layer-name="Layer Name" rear_image_url="2996" rear_image_url_filename="side_side_A_2-1.jpg" front_image_url="2997" front_image_url_filename="side_side_1-1-1.jpg" image_caption="Image Caption Text" image_caption_color="white" image_location="image-left" id="content_yoeggwdfm" post_id="1234"] <h4>WATER EFFICIENT MAIZE FOR AFRICA [WEMA] </h4><p>In support of the many smallholder farmers facing this challenge, leaders in plant breeding, environmental science, and agronomy are seeking a solution. Among other methods, WEMA is developing varieties of maize <a target="_blank" href="https://aatf-africa.org/projects-programmes/projects/wema">that tolerate moderate drought conditions</a>. With newfound resilience, this adapted white maize can provide a precious resource: more time. As farmers wait for rainfall, this variety can better endure the hardship.</p> [/ce_side_by_side_images]

This endeavor can bring a stabilizing force to the African food supply. By providing more reliable varieties of maize, bred specifically for their local climate, WEMA is helping equip these farmers to grow with confidence.

Thanks to advances in plant breeding, farmers in the Sub-Saharan are providing more white maize to their local communities.
[unex_ce_article_full_width_photo layer-name="Layer Name" img="2998" image-filename="breaker_A-1-1.jpg" id="content_xdw4lww05" post_id="1234"] <h5><span style="color:#FFFFFF;">Thanks to advances in plant breeding, farmers in the Sub-Saharan are providing more white maize to their local communities.</span></h5> [/ce_article_full_width_photo]

Agriculture has always provided opportunity, a means to feed ourselves, trade, and create a better future for humanity. These factors will remain important but as we move forward, modern agriculture has another focus: our planet. As the industry continues to evolve, modern agriculture will strive to grow crops more efficiently. With every crop, every harvest, and every innovation—we must remember the guiding principle of finding more ways to use fewer natural resources.

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