Stem borer pest attacks to reduce with new technology

Jul. 19, 2016

By AGATHA NGOTHO , @agathangotho

Dr Murenga Mwimali a scientist from Kalro explains about the experiment of developing a variety that is resistant to the stem borer at the confined field trial site in Kitale.

Farmers in Kitale will benefit from a technology that will reduce the attack on maize from the stem borer pest.

Kitale is part of the bread basket area in Kenya but the stem borer has been a big problem resulting to about 25 per cent losses of the crop in Trans Nzoia

county according to Kenneth Kagai, the county’s agriculture deputy director.

“Much of the maize consumed in the country comes from this region hence the need to seek for a solution to address the pest problem.

Any technology that can address this issue will go a long way in ensuring that farmers get enough produce for themselves and the country,” he said.

Kagai added that the effects from the pest are normally low for those farmers that plant early, which is by the second week of March.

Dr Murenga Mwimali a scientist from Kalro explains about the experiment of developing a variety that is resistant to the stem borer at the confined field trial site in Kitale.
Dr Murenga Mwimali a scientist from Kalro explains about the experiment of developing a variety that is resistant to the stem borer at the confined field trial site in Kitale.

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AATF, Ultravetis Bring Climate-Smart Maize Hybrids to Farmers in E.A

WEMA’s goal is to deliver climate smart technologies to farmers in Africa.

By AATF

The Water Efficient for Africa (WEMA) breeding programme has built its reputation over the last decade as a credible maize improvement project in Sub-Saharan Africa. Apart from developing a robust product pipeline of 75 maize hybrids, it has also offered seed companies and farmers a wide selection of products.

Furthermore, the project prides in working together with seed companies to help solve day to day challenges by farmers. Drought and food security are the core concerns of the project.  It is with the vision of like-minded private companies like Ultravetis that WEMA is meeting its project goal of improving yields on drought-prone farmlands.

The long-term goal is to deploy these new varieties and make them available to smallholder farmers royalty-free through local African seed companies.

Inaugural discussion between Dr. Gospel Omanya, Senior Manager at AATF and Ultravetis Director, Mr. Wachira Muriithi, yielded a fruitful partnership that brought Ultravetis into maize seed business. Ultravetis was first licensed to sell its first WEMA hybrid (WE1101) in October 2013 rainy season. Within the last 4 years, Ultravetis have four more licensed WEMA maize hybrids, namely, WE2109, WE2107, WE2111 and WE3106. Ultravetis is a good example of companies that have been bold to tap in to opportunities and fly with it.  Through WEMA the company has been able to increase its product range and network coverage.

WEMA's goal is to deliver climate smart technologies to farmers in Africa.

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Why not plant these seeds for a bumper harvest?

Seeds of Gold, Daily Nation

Friday April 29 2016

Your latest kid on the block on matters seeds is Elgon Prestige 02 (WE1101). What are some of its defining features?

This seed is a product of the partnership between the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organisation (KALRO) and WEMA–Water Efficient Maize for Africa, a project. Its biggest selling point is that it is a drought and other stress-tolerant variety. It does well in conditions of reduced rainfall. It is high-yielding because it is a double cropper.

That means every stem has two cobs. We have seen farmers harvest up to between 35 and 40 bags an acre. This is way higher than 10-15 bags which other seeds give from an acre. Having been developed to brave climate change, this variety takes 90 days for green maize to be ready for the market. Those targeting dry maize will have harvest it in four months.

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DroughtTEGO, Boon for Western Kenya farmers

 

December , 2015

By Evelyn Situma

Jotham’s maize yield has increased from 10 kilograms to 10 bags of 90kg maize from when he started farming DroughtTEGO™ maize hybrid developed by Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project in 2014.
For seven years, he harvested only 10 kilograms of maize from a quarter of an acre piece of land (equivalent to 0.1 t/ha). “At the time I knew nothing about technology. That is why I never got much from my farm. But now my yield has increased because of DroughtTEGO™ maize seed and good agronomy practices,” he said.
WEMA through its project partner, Rural Outreach Programme (ROP), a community based farmer organization in Western Kenya has been conducting field demonstrations (demo) for farmers in the region. It’s through the awareness drives that Jotham was approached to host a field demo at his farm.
“They set up a 10 metre by 10 metre demo plot with several maize varieties on each. TEGO variety- WE1101 out-did the rest,” said Jotham. He harvested 70 kg from the demo plot.

Jotham Apamo puts across a point during an interview in Western Kenya. His yield has increased from 10kg per quarter acre (equivalent to 0.1 t/ha) to 10 bags of 90kg (4.5t/ha) on half acre farm after adopting DroughtTEGO, a maize brand from the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project. PHOTO/Evelyn Situma

Jotham Apamo puts across a point during an interview in Western Kenya.
His yield has increased from 10kg per quarter acre (equivalent to 0.1 t/ha) to 10 bags of 90kg (4.5t/ha) on half acre farm after adopting DroughtTEGO, a maize brand from the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project. PHOTO/AATF

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Science council okays GM maize trials in Uganda

Daily Monitor Jan 27, 2016

By Ismail Musa Ladu

Approval for trials of genetically modified (GM) maize has been granted by the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology, Daily Monitor has learnt.

The confined field trial is to test whether the GM maize can withstand adverse climate conditions as well as diseases.

When contacted on Monday, Dr Godfrey Asea, the project implementer, confirmed the developments. He explained that the trial, which is due to start soon, will focus on the tolerance of GM maize varieties against insects and drought.

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Researchers give nod to GM maize trials

By JAMES KARIUKI
Monday, February 15 2016

Emanuel Ber, 5, plays with yellow maize at their home in Rachuonyo, Homa Bay County, on January 19, 2016. Kenya Agricultural Livestock and research Organisation has approved cultivation trials for GMO maize. PHOTO | TOM OTIENO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Emanuel Ber, 5, plays with yellow maize at their home in Rachuonyo, Homa Bay County, on January 19, 2016. National Biosafety Authority has approved cultivation trials for GMO maize. PHOTO | TOM OTIENO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

A public-private consortium behind the scientific development of drought and pest resistant high yielding maize varieties says last week’s approval for national field trials is the way to go.

Acting Kenya Agricultural Livestock and research Organisation (Kalro) Director General Eliud Kiplimo, and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) Executive Director Denis Kyetere said they would immediately embark on the next step of identifying suitable varieties for various regions that are adversely affected by stem borers.

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Our scientists have scored high in this field. We move with our heads high.

 

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Sunday Akile addresses the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Kampala. (Credit: Christopher Bendana)

KAMPALA – Sunday Akile, the programme officer for legal and policy biosafety at the African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE), has lauded Ugandan scientists doing research on biotechnology.

ABNE is an institution of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

“Our scientists have scored high in this field. We move with our heads high,” he told participants attending the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) at Hotel Royale on Thursday.

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It’s Time to Focus on Crops Suitable for Sub-Saharan Africa Facing Longer Arid Stretches

By Sukhbir Dhillon

04/04/2016

It’s Time to Focus on Crops Suitable for Sub-Saharan Africa Facing Longer Arid S

Acute food shortage has threatened the forty eight countries which make up sub-Saharan Africa. The reasons have been many, starting from climate change, government policy and farming practices like generations of subsistence farming which has depleted the nutrients in soil and made it less fertile. The region is becoming more arid, adding difficulty to the growing season.

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Finding common ground in the debate about African agriculture

By Catherine Cheney 17 March 2016



Farmers examine disease-resistant varieties of wheat during an agricultural exhibit at Eldoret University in Kenya. How can African farmers enhance their productivity and increase their resilience to climate change without compromising the health of their land? Photo by: Greg Webb / International Atomic Energy Agency / CC BY-SA

The sixth of 10 children, Florence Wambugu knew at an early age there must be a better way to ward off pests than mixing ashes and soot. Her mother sold the one cow from their family farm to send her daughter to school and test the theory.

Wambugu would go on to receive a scholarship from the United States Department of Agriculture to spend time at Monsanto, the biotechnology powerhouse in St. Louis, Missouri, where she studied genetic engineering for the sweet potato.

Since returning to Kenya, where she is CEO of Africa Harvest Biotech International, she has extended technologies such as tissue culture for bananas to rural smallholder farmers.

 

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Sowing the Seeds of a Farm Boom in Africa

Farmers in Kenya harvest corn from Monsanto’s Water Efficient Maize for Africa project.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />

Farmers in Kenya harvest corn from Monsanto’s Water Efficient Maize for Africa project. Source: Monsanto

The 48 countries that make up sub-Saharan Africa have increasingly acute food needs as climate change turns the region’s growing seasons more arid. The drought now devastating southern and East Africa, which threatens 50 million people with famine, is just the start, climate forecasters say. The World Bank projects that, given present trends, about 40 percent of the land used to grow corn in sub-Saharan Africa will no longer be suitable for current varieties by 2030.

Monsanto says it has part of the solution. On small plots of land in Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda, the company—in collaboration with, among others, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—is testing corn varieties that hold up better against dry weather and insects. Monsanto’s Water Efficient Maize for Africa project is as much about doing well as it is about doing good. “The long-term growth has to be looked at as a business opportunity,” says project director Mark Edge, whose work involves hybrid seeds rather than the genetically modified varieties Monsanto produces, which are controversial on the continent. “The short-term challenge is creating the market and understanding what investments can do that,” he says.

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