By John Majau and Wainaina Ndung’u
Two districts in Mt Kenya region have reported a maize disease that attacked the crop in parts of Rift Valley and Nyanza.
Imenti South District Agricultural Officer (DAO) Joseph Mugambi said the Maize Lethal Necrotic disease was noticed in three locations in Kathera and Nkuene Division.
''We have noticed that the disease mainly affects maize crop at early stages and farmers should be on the look out of the disease's symptoms whereby the crop turns brown in colour before wilting,” said Mugambi.
In Kieni East District, Nyeri County, the National Drought Management Agency (NDMA) reported that a strange disease presumably fungal or viral had started affecting maize fields.
“It is characterized by discolouring of leaves at the fourth week, mottling, flecking of leaves at tasseling and failure of cob development,” NDMA Kieni project said in its monthly report for May 2012.
In Kieni the areas affected by the disease as Kabaru, Kambura-ini and Kiamathaga locations but said it was fast spreading to other areas.
“The disease is spreading fast and caused irreversible damage to the crop and could lead to a substantial crop failure in the region if not controlled in good time,” said the report.
Mugambi called on Imenti residents to ensure they report incidences of the disease immediately to the district agricultural officers to enable the government to take preventive action in order to cushion farmers against loss.
He urged farmers to be patient noting his office was waiting for the final results from the Embu Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), which would be ready by mid June.
He also asked farmers to purchase planting materials such as seeds from credible institutions to avoid buying contaminated seeds, which could spread disease.