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Maize

Overview

Maize for Impact
Crop Maize Zea Center of origin: CAM

Maize (called corn in the United States, Canada, and Australia) is the most widely produced crop in the world. This cereal, which originated in Mexico, is now grown in at least 164 countries around the world with a total production of more than 1 billion metric tons in 2013.

There is tremendous diversity in maize, especially in its native continent. Maize is grown at latitudes varying from the equator to slightly above 50 degrees north and south, from sea level to over 3000 meters elevation, in cool and hot climates, and with growing cycles ranging from 3 to 13 months. It is the genetic variability of maize that enables it to thrive in such diverse conditions.

Human consumption of maize and maize meal constitutes a staple food in many regions of the world, and it provides about one-third of the calorie intake in Latin America, the Caribbean and Sub-Saharan Africa. Maize meal is made into a thick porridge in many cultures: from the polenta of Italy and the mãmãligã of Romania to the food called sadza, nshima, ugali and mealie pap in Africa. It is the main ingredient for tortilla, tamale, posole, pinole and many other dishes of Mexican food, and for chicha, a fermented beverage of Central and South America. Sweet corn is a genetic variation, high in sugars and low in starch, that is served as a vegetable.

Most maize grown in the developed world is grown as feed for livestock, and much is also used for industrial purposes such as alcohol or syrup production. Sugar derived from maize is one of the main sweeteners in soft drinks. Increasingly ethanol made from maize is being used as an additive in petrol.

Maize is the preferred staple food of more than 1.2 billion people in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. However, maize-based diets, particularly those of the very poor, often lack essential vitamins and minerals. Over 50 million people in these regions are vitamin A deficient, which can lead to visual impairments, blindness and increased child mortality. The white maize eaten in much of sub-Saharan Africa contains almost no pro-vitamin A, while standard yellow maize varieties contain about 2 micrograms per gram (µg/g) – still insufficient in a diet dominated by maize. The good news is that there is tremendous genetic variation in maize resulting in variable concentrations of pro-vitamin A. The project “Biofortified Maize for Improved Human Nutrition” at the International Center for Maize and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT) has been screening maize samples, looking for the best pro-vitamin A content. Scientists anticipate producing materials with the ultimate target of 15 µg/g within the next four years by using cutting edge lab tools to help select the best materials for breeding.

Conserving forever in genebanks

Filter by genebanks

CIMMYT

Number of varieties available to the public
53.4% 14,848
Data available in genesys
0% 0
Safety duplicated
30% 8,334

IITA

Number of varieties available to the public
38% 600
Data available in genesys
50.5% 798
Safety duplicated
25.7% 406

Breakdown of genebanks conserving Maize

  • CIMMYT 27,820 / 94.6%
  • IITA 1,581 / 5.4%

The Crop Trust has supported 31 projects for Maize

  1. Argentina: The Estacion Experimental Agropecuaria Pergamino received support from the Crop Trust to regenerate 36 maize accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop.
  2. Azerbaijan: The Crop Trust supported the Genetic Resources Institute of the National Academy of Sciences to regenerate, characterize and safety duplicate 200 accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of these crops.
  3. Brazil: The Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuaria received support from the Crop Trust to regenerate and characterize 290 maize accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop. 71 accessions are safety duplicated in the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).
  4. Brazil: The Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuaria received support from the Crop Trust to characterize and evaluate maize for tolerance to drought and resistance to disease with the aim being to identify potential sources of genes and make these available for use in the development of adapted varieties.
  5. Bulgaria: The Crop Trust supported the Institute of Plant Genetic Resources to regenerate, characterize and safety duplicate 150 maize accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops.
  6. Chile: The Crop Trust supported the Instituto de Investigaciones Agropecuarias to regenerate and safety duplicate 78 maize accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops. 27 are safety duplicated in the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and 43 in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
  7. Costa Rica: The Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Centre (CATIE) received support from the Crop Trust to regenerate, characterize, document and safety duplicate 62 maize accessions from the international collection it manages.
  8. Democratic People’s Republic of Korea: The Pyongyang Crop Genetic Resources Institute (PCGRI) of the Academy of Agricultural Science received support to regenerate and characterize 2,520 maize accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops. 2400 are safety duplicated in the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
  9. Georgia: The Crop Trust supported the Georgian Institute of Farming (GIF) to regenerate, characterize and safety duplicate 100 maize accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops.
  10. Guatemala: The Crop Trust supported the Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnología Agrícolas (ICTA) to regenerate and characterize 177 maize accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop.
  11. Guinea: The Crop Trust supported the Institut de Recherche Agronomique de Guinée to regenerate and characterize 380 maize accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop. 221 accessions are safety duplicated in IITA.
  12. Honduras: The Crop Trust supported EAPEZ, Honduras to regenerate and characterize 238 maize accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop. 189 accessions are safety duplicated in the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).
  13. Hungary: The Crop Trust supported the Research Centre for Agrobotany to regenerate and characterize 89 maize accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops.
  14. Indonesia: The Crop Trust supported the Indonesian Center for Agricultural Biotechnology and Genetic Resources Research and Development (ICABIOGRAD) to regenerate, characterize and safety duplicate in the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and Svalbard Global Seed Vault 150 maize accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops.
  15. Mozambique: The Crop Trust supported the Instituto de Investigação Agrária de Moçambique to regenerate 161 maize accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop
  16. Nepal: The Crop Trust supported the Agriculture Botany Division (NARI) to regenerating 250 maize accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop. 122 accessions are safety duplicated in the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).
  17. Nicaragua: The Crop Trust supported the Universidad Nacional Agraria, Nicaragua to regenerate 67 maize accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop. 40 accessions are safety duplicated in the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).
  18. Panama: The Crop Trust supported the Instituto de Investigación Agropecuaria de Panamá to regenerate 16 maize accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop.
  19. Paraguay: The Centro Regional de Investigaciones Agricolas received support from the Crop Trust to regenerate, characterize and safety duplicate 44 maize accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop.
  20. Peru: The Crop Trust provided support to the Universidad Nacional Agraria, La Molina to regenerate, characterize and safety duplicate 1302 maize accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop. 673 of these accessions are duplicated in the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)
  21. Philippines: The National Plant Genetic Resources Laboratory (NPGRL) of the University of the Philippines Los Banos received an emergency grant from the Crop Trust for the rescue of its national germplasm collections, following the damage caused by the typhoon Milenyo in September 2006.
  22. Philippines: The Crop Trust supported the National Plant Genetic Resources Laboratory (NPGRL) at the University of the Philippines Los Banos to regenerate, characterize and safety duplicate 710 maize accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops. 539 accessions are safety duplicated in the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).
  23. Russia: The Crop Trust supported the N.I. Vavilov Research Institute of Plant Industry to regenerate and safety duplicate in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault 1000 maize accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop.
  24. Swaziland: The Crop Trust supported the National Plant Genetic Resource Center (NPGRC), Swaziland in regenerating 96 maize accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop.
  25. Tanzania: The Crop Trust supported the National Plant Genetic Resource Center (NPGRC), Tanzania to regenerate 122 maize accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop. 41 accessions are safety duplicated in the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).
  26. South Africa: The African Centre for Crop Improvement in South Africa crossed temperate low phytic acid mutants with African maize to enhance nutritional value and early maturity. Early maturity maize varieties will fit into the short growing seasons and escape the drought periods that occur later in the season. The short rain seasons are expected to become more frequent in view of the effects of climate change in Sub Saharan Africa.
  27. Uruguay: The Universidad de la Republica and Instituto Nacional de Investigacion Agropecuaria received support from the Crop Trust to regenerate, characterize and safety duplicate 130 maize accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop.
  28. Uzbekistan: The Crop Trust supported the Uzbek Research Institute of Plant Industry (UzRIPI) to regenerate 180 maize accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop. All accessions are safety duplicated in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
  29. Yemen: The Agricultural Research & Extension authority (AREA) received support from the Crop Trust to regenerate and characterize 158 maize accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops.
  30. Zambia: The Crop Trust supported the National Plant Genetic Resource Center (NPGRC), Zambia to regenerate 170 maize accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop. 161 accessions are safety duplicated in the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).
  31. Zimbabwe: The Crop Trust supported the National Plant Genetic Resource Center (NPGRC), Zimbabwe to regenerate and safety duplicate 29 maize accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop.