I’ve been a farmer for six years, mainly of maize, but also coffee and sweet potatoes. Two years ago, I started using a hybrid maize seed called SAWA, which was developed specifically for drought-like conditions by scientists from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), based in Mexico. It was first donated to me as a sample by Dryland Seed Limited, a local seed company, and now it’s very popular, so a lot of us here buy it ourselves. This hybrid is better than the traditional varieties, no doubt; it’s a better seed and yields a bigger crop. The taste is different too—it’s a little sweeter. We eat a lot of maize in Kenya; it’s our staple food, especially as ugali, a maize flour porridge.
We have two harvest seasons. October to December is the main one, and the minor one is February to April. If you come here in July or August, it is a very bad place to be. It’s so hot. With this hybrid, even when we have small rains, the maize is very good. And they don’t get so affected by the sun. The new variety has fewer diseases, including northern corn leaf blight, gray leaf spot, maize streak virus, and maize lethal necrosis, a viral disease that was a big problem for us when it broke out in 2011.
It’s early October and I am clearing the farm right now, and putting in manure from the cows. I am standing by, buying more seeds, and waiting for the rain. The selling price the government sets for maize is still not very good, unfortunately. But I still have more crops than some of my neighbors, who sometimes recycle seeds and don’t have very much at all. With ordinary seeds, you have to take much more care of them for much less product. And none of us can really afford other inputs like fertilizer, so any other ways to make our land more productive is good.
Humans and technology
VR is as good as psychedelics at helping people reach transcendence
On key metrics, a VR experience elicited a response indistinguishable from subjects who took medium doses of LSD or magic mushrooms.
The 1,000 Chinese SpaceX engineers who never existed
LinkedIn users are being scammed of millions of dollars by fake connections posing as graduates of prestigious universities and employees at top tech companies.
Social media is polluting society. Moderation alone won’t fix the problem
Companies already have the systems in place that are needed to evaluate their deeper impacts on the social fabric.
The fight for “Instagram face”
Meta banned filters that “encourage plastic surgery,” but a massive demand for beauty augmentation on social media is complicating matters.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.