The Kenya Seed Company has announced that it has made a breakthrough against Maize Lethal Necrosis (MLN) disease.
Managing Director Azariah Soi said a new MLN-resistant maize seed variety, 6506, would be released in November.
The seed will be distributed just in time for the next maize planting season in the south region, where farmers have been grappling with MLN for the past few years.
"Farmers don't have to worry again over the disease. We worked with other collaborators to develop the new maize seed variety. The seed is ready for distribution,” said Mr. Soi.
The MNL-tolerant variety has the potential to yield between 35 and 40 bags of maize per acre.
"If farmers can plant the new maize variety on time and do all the necessary agronomic practices, such as weeding and application of sufficient fertiliser, they can harvest such a number of bags of maize. That is something we have tried and tested," said Soi.
He added that the new variety was suitable for both mid and high-altitude areas.
“It might not flourish very well in lowland areas, where rainfall is inadequate. For such zones, we have 516, 513 and DH4, which we encourage farmers in those areas to plant," Soi said.
The MD also announced Kenya Seed Company had developed another seed variety, 6219, which has been under development in the research department for the last seven years and is ready to be released to the market.
“We are in the process of bulking the new maize variety for the highlands. It has been tested over several regions and we have confidence that it can yield 50 bags of maize in an acre of land,” he said.
Soi explained the maize variety was developed with an eye on maximising output.
The maize seed requirement in the country is 35 metric tonnes.
"Out of this amount, Kenya Seed Company supplies farmers with 28 metric tonnes," said Soi.