News and knowhow for farmers

Weed tolerant maize for Western Kenya does well in both short and long season rains

maize kstp 94

Farmers in Western Kenya can now grow the KSTP 94 weed tolerant maize variety developed by the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization.

KSTP 94 is resistant to striga, a parasitic weed that causes up to 100 per cent crop failure in affected farms.  

According to the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), striga weed infests over 20m ha of crops in sub-Saharan Africa each year causing losses estimated at Sh100bn thereby affecting over 100m people who depend on agriculture and specifically maize to sustain their livelihoods.

In East Africa, the weed infests over 1.4m hectares yearly with Kenya accounting for 340,000 ha of the total land invaded by the weed.

The striga weed normally causes stunted growth of cereal crops like maize and wheat by attaching itself to the roots of the host plant extracting essential nutrients and moisture necessary for growth.

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The variety can yield up to 22 bags per acre and does well in both the short and long rainy seasons in Kenya.

Farmers can obtain seeds from KALRO-Kakamega or Dominion Farm, Lagrotech Seed Company, Sacred Africa or their nearest ministry of agriculture offices.

Alternatively, KSTP 94 is an open pollinated variety and farmers can select own seeds from the previous crop seed for the next season. In this, select cobs in the middle of the field as cobs at the edge are more likely to have been contaminated with pollen from neighboring maize plantations.

Dry the maize Dry the cobs separately to avoid mixing with other varieties at the homestead then shell the maize and treat with the recommended seed dressing chemical such as diatomaceous dust. Store the seeds in a cool dry place for the next season.  Seed recycling is recommended for only three seasons and thereafter the farmer should get new seeds from the sources identified earlier.

In 2018, maize production in Kenya increased from 35m bags in the previous year to 46m bags.

Maize consumption in the country is estimated at 98 kilograms per person per year, which translates to 2.7 to 3.1m metric tonnes per year, according to Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy And Development 2016 research.

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