|Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mr Felix Koskei (in white cap) holds a packet of the new variety maize seed after he launched the seed at Namandala ADC Farm in Kitale. The variety can produce up to 68 bags per hactare.|
By OSINDE OBARE
A new high yielding maize seed variety developed by the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (Kari) in the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) Farm has been launched in the country.
The seeds promise up to 68 bags per hectare. The variety has attracted high demand from farmers from areas recommended for growing it.
Kari released the hybrid KH600-23A to the market a fortnight ago during its launch by the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei at the corporation’s Namandala farm in Kitale.
Kari researchers said the new hybrid variety has proved to be high yielding, early maturing and tolerant to a variety of diseases.
Tom Nyagechanga, one of the farmers rushing to buy the hybrid ready to plant it next season was upbeat about his expectations.
“It will be a blessing to us and great boost to food security. It will be the first time to harvest such big number of bags from maize production,” said Nyagechanga, who is accustomed to popular hybrid 614 produced by Kenya Seed Company.
Kitale Regional Manager Simon Bundotich told The Standard that farmers are flocking their offices to purchase the hybrid.
He said the corporation has in store 70 tonnes of the seed going at Sh280 for a kilo, Sh700 for a 5-kilo packet, Sh1,400 for 10 kilos and 25 kilos cost Sh3,400. “The seed is going like hot cake and farmers are flocking our shop offices in Kitale to purchase the seed,” said Bundotich.
Researchers from the two agricultural institutions have spent over three years conducting trials before finally developing the seed variety that take five months to mature.
According to Edward Omwando, one of the researchers who was instrumental in the trails and final development of this maize seed hybrid, the variety takes between 140-175 days to mature.
It will give a farmer between 48 and 68 bags from a hectare. “Our trials proved that the variety is one of the highest yielding hybrid and advantageous than other hybrids in the market. It is fast maturing and tolerant to diseases,” Omwando said.
Omwando explained that the new hybrid is resistance to rust, leaf blight and grey leaf spot and it reduces lodging both root and stalk.
The researcher further said the new variety yields by 43.3 per cent over other popular varieties and is suitable to upper altitude. The variety is recommended for growing in Trans-Nzoia, West Pokot, slopes of Mt Elgon, Uasin Gishu, Nandi, Kericho and Laikipia. The seed variety is also suitable for Lower Nyandarua, upper part of Nyeri, Migori, Kisii and Nakuru.
Mr Koskei said its ability to give more bags will boost food security in the country in line with the government plans to produce sufficient food for the country.
“We salute ADC for developing this kind of maize seed variety. It will give farmers good yields and boost food security of the country,” said Koskei after he launched the hybrid.
Accompanied by ADC acting Managing Director Andrew Tuimur, Koskei disclosed that the government has provided over 1.7 million acres in Tana River district to be used in the production of food crop through irrigation.