By Sukhbir Dhillon
Acute food shortage has threatened the forty eight countries which make up sub-Saharan Africa. The reasons have been many, starting from climate change, government policy and farming practices like generations of subsistence farming which has depleted the nutrients in soil and made it less fertile. The region is becoming more arid, adding difficulty to the growing season.
The drought is now threatening southern and East Africa, which is pushing about fifty million people towards famine and according to forecasters, this is just the beginning.
As per the World Bank’s estimations if the current trends persist, approximately forty percent of the land that is used for cultivating corn in sub-Saharan Africa will not be able to sustain the present varieties by 2030.
According to Monsanto, the sustainable agriculture company headquartered in Creve Coeur, Greater St. Louis, Missouri, says it has some solution for the problem. It is testing different varieties of corn that grow better in dry weather and is more resistant to insects, in collaboration with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation along with others on small plots in South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
Project director, Mark Edge for Monsanto’s Water Efficient Maize for Africa says, “The long-term growth has to be looked at as a business opportunity.” He added, “The short-term challenge is creating the market and understanding what investments can do that.” The project involves hybrid seeds and not genetically modified varieties which Monsanto produces and has been centre of controversies in recent times.