Maize is now used in large quantities to fuel the bioethanol industry in the US. This, accompanied by a strong demand for animal feed, has brought prices of maize to new heights. As food imports become more and more costly, countries in Southeast Asia are looking to improve productivity of their grain production. Our project titled "Site-specific nutrient management in maize", an initiative of IPNI and IPI, is described in detail in the Research Findings of this issue. This is a natural continuation to the scientific approach applied in rice (see the detailed report in e-ifc 10, December 2006). In these articles, you will find data on maize production in Asia and global demand, the principles of SSNM in maize, analysis of yield potential and yield gaps of maize in Southeast Asia, ways for improving the productivity of maize, and more. A section on farmer
participatory development and evaluation of locally adapted nutrient management practices is also included.
We all agree that the role of farmers is crucial for productive and sustainable agriculture. In fact, the human factor is the only cohesive element in bringing together soil and climatic conditions, appropriate use of water and crops, and the optimizing of agricultural production systems. In India, farmers who achieve high yields and become financially strong are called "progressive farmers" Frankly, this appears to imply that there are "non-progressive" farmers. I do not believe that. Farmers are very much alike around the world, but the systems that surround them are quite different; whether it is the investment in research and extension, the salary paid to their advisors, or the subsidies and safety nets that support them. These factors are all crucial for successful agricultural production systems and those who work with them. In this manner, we should rather evaluate "progressive agricultural systems" to describe the complete set of parameters that affect the performance of a given system.
At the start of a new year, we look to the prospects of 2008. We wish our readers timely and sufficient rains,
optimum climatic conditions, relatively few attacks of pests and disease, and - at the end of the process - good market prices. A fertile year to one and all.
I wish you all an enjoyable read.
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e-ifc Research Findings
Assessing the Impact of Potash Fertilization on Soybean Production in India