alexa Brief news on farming and agribusiness developments from around the region - Daily Nation

Brief news on farming and agribusiness developments from around the region

Monday November 5 2018

Employees winnow dried maize in a farm in Uasin Gishu.

Employees winnow dried maize in a farm in Uasin Gishu. Stored maize can accumulate toxins such as aflatoxin when not dried properly. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

SEEDS OF GOLD TEAM
By SEEDS OF GOLD TEAM
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Study roots for hermetic bags in storing grains

A study released recently by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) has confirmed that the use of hermetic bags works well against weevils and borers.

The study, which was conducted in Nakuru County last year, sampled several maize farmers.

“When you use insecticides in grain preservation, their smell will be left on the grain which makes them less desirable.

Other farmers also overdose their grains with insecticides which makes them unhealthy to consume,” said Hugo De Groote, a principal economist at CIMMYT.

Dr Hugo added that stored maize can accumulate toxins such as aflatoxins when not dried properly, adding that drying grains on the ground also propagates contamination.

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Hermetic bags are airtight with thick inner-lining, which when tied prevents air or water from getting into the cereals stored in them.

First developed by Purdue University, they preserve the contents while restricting the existence of cereal pests by depleting oxygen supply levels.

The hermetic bags currently available in the country include PICS bag, Zerofly and Agro-Z.

-Leopold Obi

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Top county teams to exhibit agricultural innovations at fete

Top 14 hubs that demonstrated initiative and drive to address county challenges from the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) have been selected to showcase their products at the upcoming IREN Food Security Technologies and Innovation Challenge (ITIC-2018) Trade Expo.

The expo will be held on November 29 in Kisumu and will feature key solutions developed by the 14 hubs of three to five members from the initial 28.

Senior programme officer for Friedrich Naumann Foundation, East Africa, said each County Solution Hub was tasked to come up with technologies relevant to their immediate food security challenges.

“The key to county solution hubs is to give agency to citizens to address challenges that face them and compliment county and national government efforts to development” said James Shikwati, Team leader at IREN.

The solutions include pest control strategies, dryers for cereals, tomato processor and storage units to prevent post-harvest losses. Others include a solar powered poultry hatchery and a portable dairy feed maker.

Participants came from Bomet, Bungoma, Busia, Homa Bay, Kakamega, Kericho, Kisii, Kisumu, Migori, Nyamira, Nandi, Siaya, Trans Nzoia and Vihiga Counties.

-Faith Nyamai

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Alarm as fish output falls

Fish production in Kenya declined from 163,400 metric tonnes (MT) to 128,600MT between 2013 and 2016, according to a new report.

The Zero Hunger Strategic Review report 2018 attributes the decline to environmental degradation, overfishing and population growth.

“Environmental degradation in the fishing water bodies has led to infestation of aquatic weeds such as water hyacinth, hippo grass and plastic pollution.” Increase in population has equally led to competition for water resources where fish is the main commodity.

Overfishing has been recorded in lakes Victoria, Naivasha, Baringo and Jipe. “The increase in climatic variability has further seen the drying of water bodies as well as warming coastal marine areas,” the report notes.

Fresh water fish accounts for 96 per cent of total fish production where more than 80 per cent comes from Lake Victoria.

Only 10 per cent of the fish caught in Kenyan waters are exported while the 90 per cent is consumed domestically.

The common fish farmed in Kenya include tilapia, catfish, carp and trout. Tilapia is the most produced.

-Magdalene Wanja

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Fresh produce exporters hope to sell more in China

Fresh produce exporters are banking on the China International Import Expo, which takes place next week in Shanghai, to grow the Chinese market.

President Uhuru Kenyatta will lead the Kenyan delegation that comprises of exhibitors and trade experts, among others, at the expo.

Hosea Machuki, the chief executive officer of the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya, said that the Chinese market is one of the promising for horticultural produce from Kenya.

“Kephis and the National Plant Protection Organisation have been having technical consultations with a view to open the Chinese market for Kenyan produce. With a population of over 1.4 billion, Kenya can tap into this market for all kinds of fresh produce including fruits, vegetables and herbs,” he said.

Currently, avocados from Kenya access the Chinese market through Hong Kong. “We expect to sell direct to China.

We also expect to start selling herbs like basil, rosemary, chives, tarragon, mint, parsley and thyme,” said Machuki.

-Irene Mugo

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Scientists shorten period of developing maize seeds

Kenya is now the first country in Africa to produce maize inbred lines (maize hybrids parents) in a record one year, reducing the time of response in case of new pest or disease attack by four years.

This follows the establishment of the state-of-the-art doubled haploid facility at the Kiboko Research Centre in Makueni County.

Kenya has thus become the first country in Africa to commercialise maize seeds produced using the new technology.

Using traditional breeding approaches, maize breeding takes 6-8 generations of inbreeding to produce parental inbred lines of new maize hybrids.

But using doubled haploid technology, breeders can now produce inbred lines within just two generations, which can easily be done in just a year on an irrigated field.

At the facility, the scientists do what they call ‘haploid induction’, where chromosomes of the maize seeds are doubled through some kind of chemical treatment.

“What all farmers in Africa require is drought tolerant, disease and pest resistant, and nutritionally enriched varieties that can provide them greater incomes and livelihood security. The technology is welcome,” said Prasanna Boddupalli, the director — Global Maize Programme at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT).

-Isaiah Esipisu