The Star (Nairobi)

2 July 2013

Kenya Lost U.S.$24.4 Million to Maize Disease Last Year

ABOUT 26,000 hectares of maize was affected by Lethal Necrosis Disease last year.

Crop Protection deputy director at the Ministry of Agriculture Joseph Ngetich said the loss is translates to an estimated 697,000 bags worth Sh2.1billion.

He said the loss represents 1.7 per cent out of the national production of 41 million bags of maize grown on 2million hectares.

Ngetich was speaking yesterday during an International Maize and Wheat improvement Centre workshop in Narok town.

The workshop brought together scientists from CIMMYT, KARI, National Agricultural Research and learning institutions from Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Zimbabwe.

Ng'etich said this season 18,500 hectares are infected with the disease.

"If left unmitigated, the impact of the disease will be felt in terms of national food security, loss of incomes and jobs. Maize is the most important cereal and staple food crop in the country," Ngetich said.

He said the government has constituted a multi-disciplinary agency that includes the Agriculture ministry, research institutions and universities, regulatory agencies, seed producers, international research organisations and private companies to deal with the disease.

Ngetich said all seed companies had been instructed to treat seed with appropriate dressers.

"The farmers were sensitised to adopt crop diversification and crop rotation with non cereal crops and advised to promote good agricultural practices to boost plant vigour and tolerance to the disease," said the director.

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