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GIS and Breeding for Drought Tolerant Maize in Sub-Saharan Africa
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Apply GIS to assist CIMMYT maize breeders in developing drought tolerant maize germ-plasm for Sub-Saharan Africa. By examining spatial variation in season length and precipitation, it should be possible to target germ plasm to specific regions in Sub-Saharan Africa, eventually providing increased benefits for resource poor farmers of the region.

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Initial work has focused on making spatial data more accessible to the maize breeders. To facilitate this, we have relied heavily on the
Spatial Characterization Tool (developed by J. Corbett et al. at ICRAF, now at the IIML at Texas A & M) and to a lesser extent, on FAO soil data. Climate and soils data considered useful by the breeders have been compiled onto a CD as Arc/View shapefiles, making all the information directly accessible within the region. Limitations of the data sets - particularly long term monthly climate data - have proven problematic. The climate data are based on monthly means, but much shorter time periods are critical in terms of drought's affect on maize. As an interim solution, 10-day interval climatic data are being estimated from the monthly data. result.jpg 1.67 K
CIMMYT maize breeders in Sub-Saharan Africa, working towards improved drought tolerance, now have basic climatic (e.g., total precipitation during the growing season), topographic and soil surfaces available to assist them in their work. Using the Spatial Characterization Tool, it has been possible to map growing season length for the region, providing an initial level of data to assist in the process of determining appropriate areas for germ plasm of differing maturities. Refinements through incorporating 10 day intervals, instead of long term monthly values, will improve the accuracy of targetting of different maturity groups of germ plasm within the region. This information, combined with ecological zoning of the region into mega-environments, should enable better definition of maize breeding priorities for the Sub-Saharan region. Priority regions can be targeted, ensuring maximum benefit for subsistence farmers in marginal areas. The same sets of data will be of great use to maize agronomists working on soil fertility and risk management in the region. Thus, eventual benefits will extend far beyond crop improvement.

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Contact : Dave Hodson, Natural Resources Group,
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)
Lisboa 27, A.P. 6-641, 06600 Mexico, D.F. Mexico
Tel: (52 5) 726-9091 ext. 2130 Fax: (52 5) 726-7558, 726 75 59
E-mail: dhodson@cimmyt.cgnet.com | http://www.cimmyt.mx/