- The disease has affected their crops for over 13 years.
- Wilson Sitienei, a Kephis Seeds Inspector, said maize planted in any field infected by the disease will be affected unless the farmers plants a different crop.
Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service has advised farmers to practice crop rotation farming to control Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease in South Rift region.
The disease has affected their crops for over 13 years.
Wilson Sitienei, a Kephis Seeds Inspector, said maize planted in any field infected by the disease will be affected unless the farmers plants a different crop.
He addressed the journalists in Narok town after experts from the government institution traversed the county sensitising farmers on best crop husbandry and need to use certified seeds.
“Farmers should not plant maize in the same field for many years. It is important for them to practice rotational planting with beans, sorghum and potatoes among others so as to have healthy soil and a better harvests,” Sitienei said.
He added that once the maize crop is harvested, pests do not disappear completely as some dig into the soil where they undergo part of their life cycle.
“When the maize is planted again, the pests attack the young germinating crops while it is still in the soil, thus passing the disease to the next maize crop,” he said.
Research shows that dressing the maize seed with strong pesticides does not help either and the crop is likely to get infected regardless of whether the seeds are dressed or not.
However, Sitienei said the ferocity of the maize disease has gone down following the prolonged rainfall in the country, adding that the disease thrives in prolonged dry spells.
He advised the farmers to ensure they plant certified seeds in order to fight disease and reap maximum returns from the crop, and in turn address the issues of food security and create employment.
“We are advising the farmers to be alert and ensure every package of seeds they purchase have a code, where farmers can verify quality from Kephis,” he said.
Sitienei said, “Certified seeds have a label. Farmers can scratch the label where they will find a number that they can use to confirm whether the seeds are genuine or not. Planting the right seeds will help farmers get the best results.”
During the tour, the team visited Ntulele, Nkaretta, Sogoo, Ngosuani, Ololulunga and Suswa to ensure both the farmers and sellers were dealing with the right seeds.
Narok is among the leading counties producing maize in the country.
The disease was first reported in the county in 2011 and some of the symptoms of infected plants are maize leaves becoming yellow and drying out from the outside edges towards the midrib.
MLND can also cause dwarfing and premature aging of the plants and then the entire plant dries out and dies.