KENYA – Kenya’s National Varieties Release Committee (NRVC) is set to approve the three-fall army warm (FAW) tolerant maize varieties in an effort to improve food security in the country.
The move comes as the country is grappling with the shortage of the commodity even after waiving import duty for white maize to avert a food crisis in the country.
The varieties, FAWTH2001, FAWTH2002, and FAWTH200, are the result of a program dubbed Plant Health Innovation Platform (PHIP) that sought to use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) on FAW using various technologies,
The project envisioned introducing new technologies and tolerant maize varieties to contain the spread of FAW in the country with the varieties developed from Mexico germplasm.
According to the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) Director General Eliud Kireger, the new varieties will help reduce the destruction that farmers have been grappling with since 2017 when the pest was first detected in the country.
The breakthrough comes after three years of intensive research and trials conducted and during the United Nations International Year of Plant Health.
The move to release the varieties was also recommended by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) and represents a significant advance in the global fight against fall armyworms.
Dr. Kireger, also added that the research center, the Kiboko research Centre in Makueni, has received 3 facilities that will assist breeders in their research.
Among the facilities are the seed drier shed, cold room, and water reservoir to support irrigation at the research center.
The equipment was financed by various donors through the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CiMMYT) to a tune of KES 62.3 million (USD 500,000).
According to stakeholders, the varieties have passed the national performance trial by the KEPHIS hence the development is part of taming the varying climate change that has devastated agriculture in the country for a long time.
Egerton university develops climate-smart seed varieties
Meanwhile, researchers at Egerton University, working with industry stakeholders and in collaboration with research institutes, have developed an array of climate-smart Seeds in a move to contribute to food security in the country.
The developed varieties include 4 varieties of pigeon pea seeds which are high-yielding disease and drought resistant, 29 new cassava varieties that are early maturity and reduced cyanide levels, and several sorghums, chickpea, finger millet, and bean varieties.
The varieties are high-yielding, drought and disease-resistant crop varieties and at the same time trained farmers to embrace innovative practices to cope with climate change.
Professor Paul Kimurto, Egerton University’s Director for Agro-Science Park, said that with the climate change realities experienced, the University and its partners have endeavored to research and avail varieties adaptable to nature’s climatic vagaries.
The don said the program seeks to increase average production for subsistence farmers from 2.5 metric tonnes per acre (MT/Ha) to 7MT/Ha and for pre-commercial farmers from 5 MT/Ha to 10 MT/Ha in the cassava value chain.