By Grace Wekesa
The research is underway in other countries like Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Ethiopia and South Africa.The study is expected to address emerging diseases in Sub-Saharan Africa and other countries in the world where maize is grown.
According to Stephen Mugo, Principal Maize Breeder at International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) in Nairobi, dangers posed by climate change and emerging diseases have forced scientists to develop new maize varieties.
“We are developing seed varieties that will adapt to changing climate and resist diseases witnessed in recent years. The varieties will ensure sustainable maize production for Sub-Saharan Africa,’’ Dr Mugo said.
He was optimistic that the new varieties the centre was developing will hit the Kenyan market in less than three years.
Mugo said the new maize varieties would enhance production, explaining that a farmer would get about seven tonnes per acre as opposed to two tonnes most farmers get currently.
Mugo and Mulugetta Mekeria, regional CIMMYT representative in Harare, Zimbabwe in charge of Sustainable and International Maize Legume Cropping Systems for food Security in Eastern and Southern Africa (SIMLESA) spoke at Kari offices in Kakamega where they led a team of scientists to monitor and evaluate the project at the centre.
Mekeria reiterated that Sub-Saharan Africa is in dire need of food and that is why African countries have been urged to commit 10 per cent of their national budget to agriculture.
He observed that it was a regrettable that Africa continued to beg for food from other continents yet it had the capacity and resources to produce its own food.
“Africa should wake up and utilise resources at its disposal so that we can be independent in terms of food security,” added Mekeria.