Market News

Kalro releases disease resistant seed varieties

A maize farm in Mandera
A maize farm in Mandera. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) has released eight maize varieties resistant to maize lethal necrosis disease.

Regional research officer John Karanja said the eight varieties have been developed for different climatic conditions.

"Besides their resistance to this disease, they are also hardy and can withstand inadequate rainfall regimes as well as mature within three months,” he said.

He promised maize farmers Kalro is also nearing developing varieties that are immune to the fall army worm pest.

The organisation in collaboration with partner researchers have been working together to find a solution to the pest that for the past three years has destroyed nearly 500,000 acres of maize.


He said Kalro is concerned that maize diseases in the country are a threat to one of the Big Four national development agendas, that is food sufficiency.

“We can only deal with these threats at the seeds engineering department. We should not be waiting for the pests and diseases to strike so that we can deal with them using pesticides. We have to be on top of these threats by developing seeds that will withstand the attacks,” he said. He said by mid-2019 there might be a breakthrough against fall army worm threat.

“It is our declared optimism that we are likely to place a solution in the market … We are cracking our scientific heads for that breakthrough and everyone here is upbeat that we got what it takes to offer maize farmers a reprieve by July 2019,” he said.

However, he said success of this effort will depend on how farmers access maize seeds for their planting need.

“If our farmers will not embrace certified seeds for their planting needs, then we might not get far with our search for zero tolerance against these maize diseases. It is important that farmers be empowered to embrace a culture of only using certified seeds,” he said.