KENYA – The African Development Bank (AfDB) has unveiled a US$1.78 million initiative dubbed Maize Compact programme and has contracted smallholder firm, African Agricultural Technology Foundation(AATF) to distribute high-yielding maize varieties among smallholder farmers.

Kenya is among 12 countries in Africa that will benefit from the programme which aims to increase maize production by at least 30%.

Other countries are Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Benin, Ghana and Cameroon.

According to the firm, the funding will boost food production that will be able to feed more than 12 million people in the region by 2020.

AATF will see the implementation of the bank’s African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) Maize Compact project and food policy programme in Africa under the Feed Africa Strategy 2016-2025.

TAAT Maize Compact aims to reach at least 2 million households, translating to 12 million farm family members in the 12 countries, with a focus on increasing incomes by at least 20% for the households involved in the maize value chain.

The Compact projects will involve 30% women and 25% youth who will be trained with an overall objective of producing additional 12 million tons of maize grain generated from the Maize value chain.

AATF is mandated to use its experience in commercialisation of innovative agricultural technologies such as climate smart water-efficient maize hybrids known as DroughtTEGO and the herbicide resistant StrigAway maize technology.

AATF Executive Director, Dr. Denis Kyetere said they will work in collaboration with International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) and the National Agricultural Research Organisations to ensure success of the project.

“I thank the AfDB for recognising AATF’s role in enabling better food security amongst smallholder farmers.

We are about African farmers and linking them with practical technological solutions for increased agricultural productivity and better Livelihoods.

With increased productivity and incomes, farmers can transition into farming as a business,” said Kyetere.

TAAT Maize Compact will work to promote use of Good Agronomic and Post-harvest practices given that post-harvest losses account for 50% of already low yields, thus ensures the benefit of improved harvest is realised.