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December 15, 2018

Maize farmers shun new seed varieties

A farmer displays new maize varieties
A farmer displays new maize varieties

Only a few farmers have adopted new maize varieties that would improve output, breeding specialists say.

Speaking in Nairobi yesterday during the launch of a project to improvee maize farming, the scientists said farmers continue to use old farming methods, including recycling seeds, yet there are new varieties at their disposal.

“The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation alone has produced over 83 maize varieties suited to various agroecological zones yet their uptake remains low,” Karlo maize breeder James 

Karanja, said.

The scientists, drawn largely from Karlo and the international potato centre, blamed lack of awareness among farmers and inadequate investment in promoting the 

new varieties.

“Just as companies like Coca-Cola promote their products, though well known in the market, it’s necessary to have a promotional drive to ensure farmers know what varieties are out,” he said.

 The project will be funded by African Development Bank for Sh180 million beginning this year. It focuses on training farmer groups on the latest agronomic technologies and eeusensitising them on the maize varieties that suit their agro-ecological zones. Kenya is divided into six agro-ecological zones.

The project will also link farmers directly with value chain actors, including seed companies, fertiliser distributors and processors, to ensure that as productivity increases, they do not suffer losses 

from wastage.

Strategies of the government mainly focus on ensuring farmers produce more but do not focus much on the value chain and post-harvest handling,  said Benjamin Kivuva, the head of crop production and seed systems unit at Karlo. 

Africa Agricultural Technology Foundation will lead the implemen

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