Drought tolerant crops, such as maize, are better able to withstand drops in water supply and are currently expected to be available within 4-5 years.
The biotechnology industry has been working in partnership with other organisations to ensure stress tolerance traits also reach farmers in developing countries.
For example, Monsanto is partnering with the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) to develop drought resistant maize. Maize with drought tolerance is expected to perform better than ‘regular’ maize in moderate drought conditions by about 25-30%, which would translate into about 2 millions more tons of food during drought years.
Progress has already been made through conventional breeding of crops such as common beans. Researchers at the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) have developed a common beans that can withstand drought better. These have yielded 600 to 750 kg per ha under severe drought conditions, roughly double the yield of common beans in Latin America under the same conditions.