The new variety is currently being scaled-up for delivery to farmers once the National Performance Trials (NPT) is conducted by the regulatory agencies.


“We have developed a maize variety for Uganda and Kenya respectively that are due to be commercialized next year,” Boddupalli Prasanna, the Director of Global Maize Program at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), told Xinhua on Friday in an interview in Nairobi.

He revealed that the maize variety UH5354 was released in Uganda by National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) and that the seed will be commercialized in 2016 following the harvest of over 20 tons in August last year.

In Kenya the variety H12ML was released in 2013, the seed scaled-up in 2015 and is due to be commercialized by 2016.

“We do have promising maize hybrids to tackle MLN that is why we are developing MLN tolerance in maize as one of the important in MLN-endemic countries,” he said.

Since 2011, MLN emerged as a major threat to food security in the East African region as a result of infection of a maize plant by the Maize Chlorotic Mottle Virus (MCMV).

Between 2011 and 2014, MLN was reported in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Ethiopia, besides unconfirmed reports of incidence in South Sudan and Burundi.

According to the Dr. Eliud Kireger, the Director General of Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organization (KALRO) a total of 77,100 hectares of maize was affected, which translated to an estimated loss of 44 million. U.S. dollars.

He said the hectare which was affected by disease in 2012 represented 3.6 percent of total estimated national production area.

“To date, it is evident that the disease is still prevalent in all the maize growing regions where farmers continue to incur comparable losses five years later,” he observed.

He said that conducive environment and continuous maize cropping in certain areas in the region is to blame for the continuous build-up of virus inoculums.

Kireger noted that sampling schemes and economic thresholds need to be established to effectively minimize MLN pathogen spread without negatively impacting maize trade.

In an attempt to wipe out the diseases, researchers have developed technologies which are being applied, for diagnostics and characterization of viruses causing MLN and the vectors spreading the disease.

A fully functional molecular laboratory has been set up in KALRO-Kabete, in the outskirts of Nairobi to offer support in diagnostics and characterization of the viruses.

In addition, renovations are in progress and appropriate equipment has been procured to have in place a functional seed health laboratory at KALRO-Kabete.

A MLN screening facility that is being used for regional and international screening against MLN enabling selection and fast tracking of resistant maize germplasm is also available at KALRO-Naivasha, in South Western Kenya.

Kenya and Uganda have both registered MLN as a threat to food security in their country reports as per the International Plant Protection Convention (FAO, 1997).

The impact of the disease is becoming massive, especially at household level for smallholder farmers who can experience total loss 100 percent of grain yield. Enditem

Source: Xinhua


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