Bringing science and development together through news and analysis

Maize and Grace: Africa's Encounter with a New World Crop 1500–2000

"It is unlikely that 500 years of history in a continent of diverse cultures and environments could produce a single, consistent narrative of crop adaptation, so James McCann has wisely chosen instead to provide brief glimpses of several important episodes in Africa's engagement with maize. Historical data on the crop's arrival in West Africa and its subsequent use are unfortunately very scanty, and much of the discussion focuses on what linguistic evidence might tell us. More detail is available to discuss the expansion of maize growing (and the priorities of maize breeding) in eastern and southern Africa in the past two centuries. There are also chapters exploring the response of the scientific community to a brief outbreak of rust disease in West Africa in the 1950s, and about a hypothesis linking the recent expansion of maize growing in northwest Ethiopia to a malaria epidemic."

Link to full book review in Nature (PDF)