East Africa Seed Company Limited (EASeed) has introduced a new maize variety into the market which takes 90 days to mature and has a potential yield of 28-30 bags per acre as compared to other varieties in the market which take up to 150 days to mature and can yield just 10-15 bags per acre.
The new veriety which is called Tosheka (MH 401) is also resistance to Maize streak virus (MSV) and gray leaf spot (Cercospora zea maydis-GLS) thus it is expected to lower farmers expenditure on farm inputs especially on pesticides hence upping their income.
“Farmers for a long time have been forced to wait for a long time for the maturity of their crops, battle with critical maize diseases and poor yield per acre but with Tosheka, we intend to raise hope for such farmers,” said EASeed agronomist, Sales and Marketing Manager, Chege Macharia.
“Furthermore, Tosheka is suitable for both seasons, long and sort rain seasons as it can do well under minimal rainfall sustaining itself under such extreme harsh climate conditions and it can also thrive even when there is enough rainfall hence farmers has nothing to worry about.”
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According to Macharia, farmers have a choice to plant high yielding and fast maturing crops to avoid suffering cases of crop failure which is caused by erratic weather in most parts of the country.
“We are targeting semi-arid areas in the North and North Eastern regions in the country which receives insufficient rainfall but can also do well in high altitude areas of cental Kenya that concentrates on growing coffee and tea, Rift Valley and the entire western region.”
Last year June, the Ministry of Agriculture predicted 20 per cent less 32 million bags to be harvested that year which was 5.1 million less as compared to the previous year. This was because the long rains (March-June wet season) of 2017 due to generally poor rainfall experienced over most parts of the country, according to a review by Kenya’s meteorological department.
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For the past five years, the East African region has been experiencing continuous droughts and crop failures. Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda are worst affected. Farms have failed across the regions, leading to food insecurity and high food prices.
With the new EASeed maize variety, Macharia said the company is seeking to address three key challenges facing farmers such as climate change, low productivity and pest and disease management.
“We have carried out research to come up with seed varieties that can help farmers get high yields despite the drastic changes brought on by climate change.”
The maize variety was launched during the company’s field day in Nyeri County at the Wambugu Farm Agricultural Training Centre.
EASeed sells a kilogram of Tosheka seeds at Sh210 while to kilograms goes for Sh400 and their seeds has Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) high-tech label seals to differentiate them from fake seeds that may be in the market.
“We have adopted the KEPHIS regulations in packaging our seed products to protect our customers from fake dealers who may want to take the opportunity to fake farmers with uncertified seeds,” said Macharia.
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An acre can take about ten kilograms and EASeed different crop seeds can be found with the company’s agro-dealers across the country and East Africa region