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Drought-tolerant, pest resistant maize variety promises higher yields

Maize production is forecast to drop from 37 million bags last year to 28 million this year. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Maize production is forecast to drop from 37 million bags last year to 28 million this year. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Scientists have unveiled a new drought-tolerant and pest- resistant maize variety, raising prospects for higher yields.

The Mon 87460/Mon 810 variety, which has been undergoing tests in confined fields, can withstand harsh climatic conditions and invasion by pests, the two top challenges farmers face.

The new variety comes against a 25 per cent projected decline in maize production this year due to erratic rains and armyworm invasion.

“The second season of these trials has proved to be drought tolerant and pest resistant in what marks a major step in the fight against insects which have caused farmers losses for long,” said Dr Murenga Mwimali, the lead scientist of the project.

The trials are a Water Efficient Maize for Africa (Wema) project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The project, conducted at Kenya Livestock Agricultural Research Organisation (Kalro) centres, seeks to develop smart technology for African farmers. Dr Mwimali urged the government to release the environmental report on the variety urgently to pave way for commercialisation.

Maize production is forecast to drop from 37 million bags last year to 28 million this year.

The armyworm invasion, which attacked major growing zones in the country, is expected to cut production by five per cent with erratic weather contributed 20 per cent of the yield losses.

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