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Economy

Armyworm-resistant maize breed unveiled

Fall armyworms
Fall armyworms were reported in the country for the first time in 2017. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (Cimmyt) will roll out the three varieties of maize that are immune to armyworm invasion, even as the government reports that the damage from the pests will be worse this year.

Stephen Mugo, maize breeder at Cimmyt, said the new conventional breed would be ready by the end of 2020 with national the regulators expected to conduct performance trials early next year.

Speaking during a stakeholder’s forum on fall armyworm yesterday, Dr Mugo said these are just some of more than five varieties of maize that researchers at the centre have developed to control the effects of the pest.

“We have got about five varieties that can be immune to the effects of fall armyworm and hopefully they will be in the market by the end of 2020 subject to approval by the government,” said Dr Mugo.

He said they had been working with the government and other institutions to come up with the new breed of maize.

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Zachary Kinyua, head of crop research at Kenya Agricultural Research Organisation said: “The damage this year will be worse when compared with 2018 as late planting predisposes the crop to army worm attacks.”

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