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March 22, 2018

Disease-resistant Maize

A demonstration farm with drought tolerant maize variety./FILE
A demonstration farm with drought tolerant maize variety./FILE

Researchers have developed maize varieties that are resistant to the necrosis disease.

The two hybrids — H12ML and H13ML — are commercialised by the Kenya Seed Company and will be released to farmers early next year.

Boddupalli Prasanna, director of the Global Maize Programme in the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre, said five varieties have been developed in East Africa. They include two for Kenya, two for Uganda and one for Tanzania.

“We hope to release about 20 MLN hybrid, resistant varieties by 2020,” he said at the MLN screening site, Naivasha.

Stephen Mugo, a maize breeder and Cimmyt regional representative, said the first seeds will be available to farmers in the mild altitude areas like Naivasha, Nakuru and Central Kenya, except the Mt Kenya area.

The disease was first reported in Kenya in September 2011 in Bomet. By 2012, only North Eastern had no cases. It causes 30 to 100 per cent maize loss. This has worsened maize shortage and declining yields.

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