For more than a decade, Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease (MLND) has ravaged crops causing farmers to incur huge losses and threatening food security.
Kenya Seed Company (KSC) researchers through partnerships have developed a superior maize variety that can withstand the disease.
Christened H 6506, the seed is drought resistant, tolerant to MLND, matures early after between 150-175 days, and grows in altitudes of between 1700-1200 metres above sea level.
KSC agronomist Mathew Mwarey said it took three years to develop the tolerant variety and tests on areas that MLND had devastated yielded positive results.
“Through the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), we took a maize variety and developed a hybrid which has now proved to be MLND tolerant after being subjected to the disease. This variety is now hope to our farmers,” explained Mwarey.
He stated that the variety also performs well in different ecological zones where it has already been tested and has a ‘stay green’ characteristic suitable for making silage for livestock.
“The H 6506 variety has proven to be stable across seasons and across agro-ecological zones and is expected to result in improved yields to farmers and ultimately upscale productivity levels, livelihoods and food security. The variety yields up to 35 bags per acre,” said the agronomist.
Mwarey said being a medium altitude variety, H 6506 is suitable for the warm highlands of Nakuru, Nandi, Laikipia, Naivasha, Narok, Kisii, Bomet and Bungoma. KSC has already tested adaptability of the seed in the regions.
“It can also perform very well as a transitional alternative in the highlands. Its stay-green attribute makes it very ideal for forage and silage making,” he stated.