KENYA – The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) has introduced two new maize varieties, the Ukamez-1 and Embu-537 that are drought-resistant and high-yielding, ahead of the planting season.

Peter Weru, KALRO Board Chairman revealed this during a two-day Mkulima Expo 2024 at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) in Kandara, Murang’a County on March, 19.

Speaking while calling upon farmers in semi-arid regions to embrace the two varieties, Weru said that the varieties are responsive to the effects of climate change and will help them get enough yields.

According to him, as an organization, KALRO will continue to develop technologies including planting materials that are drought-resistant and adaptive and that can withstand pests and diseases.

We have continued to develop varieties that are drought-responsive and high-yielding. We are calling on our farmers to ensure that they plant high-quality and verified seeds for maximum production,” Weru said.

The Chairman at the same time called on the farmers to be on the lookout during this planting season, not to plant counterfeit seeds that have flooded the market.

He said they are working closely with other stakeholders including the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) to ensure there are no fake seeds in the market.

Farmers urged to look out for fake seeds

The new varieties come at a time when agencies are calling upon farmers across the country to be on the lookout for fake seeds as the long rains planting season approaches.

In a recent address, Purity Ngirici, Kenya Seed Company Board Chair said it is at such a time when the demand for seeds is on the rise that unscrupulous traders flood the market with counterfeit seeds and other inputs.

“It is during such planting season like now that unscrupulous traders take advantage of the high demand for planting seeds to defraud farmers through the distribution of sub-standard seeds,” she said.

Ngirici was speaking during the Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK) Embu show in Njukiri Grounds on Saturday, March 16.  She noted that the use of fake seeds eventually results in poor yields thus posing a big threat to food security.

Simlaw Seeds Company which is a subsidiary of Kenya Seeds Company General Manager David Kiplagat, said they had enough stocks of seeds across their various distribution centers countrywide.

He also urged farmers to purchase recommended varieties for their particular areas to be assured of optimal yields.

As a company, we place more emphasis on research to ensure our products are of high quality to guarantee our farmers good harvest,” he said.

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