16 new maize varieties

Saturday March 15 2014

Maize in a farm. FILE PHOTO

Maize in a farm. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By DENNIS ODUNGA
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Farmers in Kenya and the rest of Africa now have access to 16 new improved drought-tolerant maize varieties that are high-yielding in moderate drought conditions.

Some farmers from Eastern and Western Kenya planted one of the maize hybrids, WE1101, marketed under the brand name Drought TEGO™, during the October 2013 short rains. 

The WE1101 is the first conventional maize hybrid (non-GM) of the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project.

According to the Project Manager Dr Sylvester Oikeh, 72 tons of the WE1101 hybrid seed have been sold to farmers by licensed seed companies in Kenya.

The variety recorded an average yield of 4.5 tons per hectare during last season’s (2013) traditionally drought stressed short rainy season compared to an average maize yield of 1.8 tons per hectare.

“We are working to ensure farmers realise stable grain yields even when there is moderate drought. There is no royalty fee charged for use of the drought-tolerant technology, and it should therefore be affordable to farmers” said Dr Oikeh.

The variety, which is non-GM, is one of the hybrids developed using breeding lines from International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre’s (CIMMYT) Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa (DTMA) project.

The WEMA project aims to produce and distribute at least 25 drought-tolerant maize hybrids to farmers in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa.