By George Munene
Joint research between Chinese and Kenyan scientists has shown that small-holder farmers can increase their maize yield by 50 per cent through proper agronomic practices like weeding, pest and disease control, and proper spacing without altering the crop’s genetic makeup.
The research conducted at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology’s Modern Agricultural Demonstration Area was planted in May and was first harvested on Friday recording 2,700 kilograms yield per acre in the demonstration area– 50 per cent more than the yield gotten in adjacent farms.
“This maize that we are celebrating today is a local variety and we only conducted research on agronomic practices that can lead to better yields. It is a variety that can grow well in low rainfall areas, “said David Mburu, a lecturer at JKUAT’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources to Xinhua News.
According to the Sino-Africa Joint Research Center (SAJOREC) located within JKUAT, the university set aside 10 acres of land as the core demonstration area. The Chinese Academy of Sciences provided project funds, high-yield planting material, and technical support.
“We have also done a number of experiments not only within the university, but we have done field trials, in the farmers’ fields, some are the arid and semi-arid areas. So this harvest means a lot to African countries. We hope we’re going to continue this project so that farmers can benefit from the research,” Mburu added.
SAJOREC’s executive director, Yan Xue, outlined that the project is looking to grow high-yield maize varieties suitable for Kenya’s climate at scale and research ways of enhancing yield, disease and pest resistance as well as the taste of local maize.
Speaking to state news agency Xinhua, he also noted that a soil moisture monitoring system and ultrasonic bird removal system used in China will be introduced to the project to improve maize harvest in the country as opposed to utilizing genetic engineering.
According to the World Food Programme (WFP), maize production dropped by an estimated 550,000 metric tons in 2020– 2021 due to fertilizer price increases and East Africa experiencing its most severe drought in 40 years.
Scientific research has shown that implementing good agricultural practices (GAP) decreases input costs while increasing the quality and quantity of yield significantly.
Source: Xinhua News