Insect Resistant Maize for Africa (IRMA): strategic plan january 2000

The Insect Resistant Maize for Africa (IRMA) Project is a joint project between the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARl), with financial support from the Novartis Foundation (NF). It responds to the need to feed the rapidly increasing population of Africa by tackling one of the major insect pests, stem borers, of the most important food crop for Southern and Eastern Africa, maize. The project will be implemented initially in Kenya, from where the experiences gathered will be applied to other African countries. The overall project goal is to increase maize production and food security through the development and deployment of insect resistant maize, in order to reduce losses due to stem borers. It will seek to effectively combine conventional and novel sources of resistance to stem borers in various agroecological zones in Kenya. The general objectives are to I) strengthen resistance to the major insect pests of maize in developing countries; 2) provide experience in the regulatory procedures in target developing countries; and 3) facilitate the efficient dissemination of insect resistant maize to farmers. During this phase, the specific objectives will be to 1) develop and procure sources of insect resistant maize germplasm for Kenya; 2) develop strategies for effective dissemination of insect resistant maize germplasm in Kenya; and 3) assess the potential and actual impacts of insect resistant maize germplasm in Kenya. Development and procurement of genes for resistance and insect resistant maize germplasm for Kenya will involve 1) development of the infrastructure for screening insect resistant maize germplasm; 2) identification of genes active against Kenyan stem borers (Chilo partellus, Busseollafusca, Sesamia calamistis, and Eldana sacharina) among the various Bt gene constructs (cryIAb, cryIAc, cryIB, and cryIE) available at CIMMYT; 3) development of improved insect resistant maize germplasm; 4) identification of target germplasm for transformation and for backcrossing to source germplasm; 5) development of transgenic-based insect resistant maize germplasm; 6) transformation of Kenyan adapted germplasm with Bt gene constructs; and 7) backcrossing adapted Kenyan germplasm with transformed CIMMYT germplasm. Development of strategies to effectively disseminate insect resistant maize germplasm in Kenya will involve 1) developing insect resistant management (IRM) strategies; 2) agronomic studies of insect-resistant maize; and 3) providing the insect-resistant germplasm to farmers. Impact assessment and socio-economic analysis will involve 1) assessing the demand for insect resistant maize varieties through studies of the different maize-based farming systems, a survey of farmers' perceptions and preferences, and of consumers' preferences; 2) ensuring that the technology fits within the country's institutional framework; 3) assuring the safety of the technology to the public through continuous dialogue with environmental groups and local research institutes, and private or public seed companies; 4) assessment of intellectual property rights' (IPR) implications and costs; 5) ensuring that the technology is appropriate and acceptable to farmers through farmer participatory trials; 6) comparing the costs of the new technology to the benefits at different levels: the seed company, the maize producer, the consumer, and society as a whole; and 7) assessing the impact of the research and comparing the benefits to the costs. The expected outputs and impacts include 1) maize inbreds, hybrids, and OPVs that incorporate the most effective conventional and transgenic-based insect resistance, tested and released in Kenya; 2) protocols developed and KARl scientists trained in the development and evaluation of transgenic maize cultivars at the experimental station level, and in the deployment and monitoring of transgenics in farmers' fields; 3) economic analyses to determine likely fium-Ievel profitability for different categories of farmers, to assess farmers' willingness to pay for the technology (strength of market demand) and to assess the overall private and public benefits of the technology; 4) insect resistance management strategies developed and implemented in all zones in Kenya where the maize is to be grown; 5) practical experience for KARl in biosafety and IPR regulatory procedures in Kenya; and 6) thorough documentation of all lessons learned during the project and made available to other developing countries interested in promoting similar technology. The IRMA project will be implemented and managed through a steering committee composed of Senior Directors from CIMMYT, KARl and the Novartis Foundation and chaired by the CIMMYT project director (the Director of the Applied Biotechnology Center and Bioinformatics). Co-coordinators for CIMMYT and KARl will be appointed and will provide the operational management of the project. CIMMYT will base a maize breeder in Kenya to identify suitable germplasm for transformation and to develop suitable maize germplasm through backcrossing of the various insect resistant genes into Kenyan germplasm. A CIMMYT economist will be based in Kenya and will implement the impact assessment activities. As information is a major output of the project, a CIMMYT communication expert will be designated to assist in preparing project documents, mainly related to public education and public/media relations issues. The project will be supported at CIMMYT Headquarters by a cell biologist and entomologist, as well as other staff in the Applied Biotechnology Center, Maize Program, Economics Program, and Information Services. Project milestones and timelines will be developed and monitored jointly by CIMMYT and KARl scientists and will form the basis for frequent project reviews. A stakeholder meeting is planned at the beginning of the project to ensure that all pertinent issues will be considered early in the life of the project. The steering committee will hold regular meetings to evaluate project performance. Results, information, and reports will be produced regularly and made available to a wide audience.

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Bibliographic Details
Format: Research Report biblioteca
Published: KARI 2000
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