Good seeds suit your region and help fight pests

Saturday February 24 2018

A maize farmer inspects his healthy maize crops in a farm in Uasin Gishu.

A maize farmer inspects his healthy maize crops in a farm in Uasin Gishu. Seed companies are working to ensure farmers get better quality seed varieties to boost the crop's farming. FILE PHOTO | NMG. 

Kenya requires over 3.6 million tonnes of maize each year to feed itself. With over 2 million hectares (ha), of land under small and large-scale maize cultivation, majority of citizens depend on maize as an income generator.

This means that there is huge market for maize, but farmers still make losses. To run your maize agribusiness and make it profitable, you must know how best to manage the business.

As a farmer, you must be able to measure your profitability and balance many operation part(s) that may make or lose money.

In the past and still in the present, various farmers rely on the farm saved seeds for planting. This has resulted in decreased production due to characteristics such as poor germination rate.

Research has shown the main reasons attributed to this are; seeds are seldom uniform with lower vigour, weather before and during harvesting affects seed vigour, damaged seeds during harvest and subsequent handling, and pests and diseases, among others.

The total crop yield at harvest time results from what happened to the seed from seedling to harvesting.

Due to climate change, pests and diseases that were absent or rare have become rampant thereby affecting yield and resulting in losses. Notable among these are Maize Lethal Necrosis (MLN), Maize Streak Virus (MSV), Grey Leaf Spot (GLS), Smut and Fall Army Worms (FAW). For a crop to produce the highest yield under any set of conditions, the first requirement is uniform, standard and healthy seeds.

This includes seed characteristics that are critical in determining crop yield. To achieve this, the seed needs to be of utmost quality.

BEST QUALITY SEEDS

Seed companies are working to ensure farmers get better quality. At Kenya Seed, we ensure that seeds are of the highest standards and we have developed over 40 maize varieties for various agro-ecological zones.

With the climate change realities experienced, the company has endeavoured to research and avail varieties adaptable to nature’s climatic vagaries.

The maize varieties released to address these concerns include H528 (Ua Kayongo), H530 and H531 (Ua Kayongo new releases) varieties to address the striga menace in Western and Nyanza region.

Varieties DH04, DH02, KSDTV01 and WE1101 are suitable for arid and semi-arid areas and for water deficient areas and those prone to drought.

Maize Lethal Necrosis (MLN) has affected many farmers resulting in huge losses. To combat these menace, we have developed and screened varieties that have shown tolerance to MLN which the regulatory agency has tested and released to farmers. These include; H12ML1 (H6506), H13ML2 (H6507) & HMZ1202 (H529)

As farmers prepare for the coming season, it is advisable to procure your seed from registered and accredited distributors. This is ensures you get the best quality seed from the company.

Planting these seeds guarantees you good germination and healthy seedling stand; minimises yield loss; good crop quality; prevents spread of insect and fungal infections; controls seed borne pest and diseases and offers value for the money used to purchase seeds.

-Prepared by M.K Mwarey, Kenya Seed Company.