Quality protein maize, or "QPM", originally developed at CIMMYT in Mexico in the late 1990s, contains nearly twice as much usable protein as other maize grown in the tropics and yields substantially more grain than traditional corn.
Maize in Haiti
Maize is traditionally a staple food in Haiti. Generally it is eaten with beans - the combination creating a full protein meal. But beans are far more expensive than maize, so QPM has the advantage of providing complete protein at a lower cost. It has an amazing potential to address Haiti's chronic food security and malnutrition problems. Funding for expanding QPM production in Haiti would seem to be an enlightened policy for a country that depends heavily on maize.
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) stated in 2002 that their new corn "contains nearly twice as much usable protein as other maize grown in the tropics and yields 10 percent more grain. In recognition of this work, the World Food Prize Foundation today tapped two scientists from the Mexico-based International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), where the research has been ongoing for over three decades, as the 2000 recipients of the World Food Prize. The new maize was developed through traditional plant breeding... Researchers expect that by 2003, the number of hectares sown to QPM will triple to approximately 3.5 million hectares (8.75 million acres)."
Since 2008 ORE has been distributing around 70 tons a year of seeds from its processing facilities in Camp Perrin. Continued support for this program will make it possible to produce larger quantities of seeds for general release in the years to come.
In 2008 grits processed from the QPM were used to feed a selected target group of women and children in the south of Haiti. The results of the feeding program were monitored to evaluate the benefits of the improved nutritional values of QPM. Following the 2010 earthquake, QPM grits were provided to hundred of survivors in Port-au-Prince and to refugees who migrated to the South.
Statistics show that over a quarter of Haitian children suffer from chronic malnutrition and a larger percentage of adults are undernourished. According to USAID-SISA (1995), 47% of Haiti's arable lands are planted with corn every year, but the average yields are 0.8 MT per hectare, the lowest in the hemisphere. The director of CIMMYT stated, "the problem is that diets high in maize lack two essential amino acids needed to prevent malnutrition. These remarkable new varieties look and taste like normal maize, but the nutritive value of their protein is nearly equivalent to cow's milk." The QPM corns will produce 3-4 MT per hectare.
A look at ORE's QPM program
Our special thanks to FOKAL for their help
We would like to offer our special thanks to FOKAL (Fondation Connaissance et Liberté, The Open Society Institute Haiti funded by Georges Soros) who provided the funding for the QPM program in Haiti. It should be noted that FOKAL is one of the few institutions in Haiti to have taken a serious interest in promoting this 'miracle crop' which has been widely supported in many other third world countries. Despite widespread malnutrition in Haiti, and the low yields from traditional corn, there is little interest among agencies involved in Agriculture, Food Security and Feeding Programs in improving Haiti's ability to produce its own supplies of nutritional food.
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