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February 26, 2012

Kenya: Striga weed parasite to be tackled with pesticide-treated maize seed

Striga is a weed parasite that subsists on maize and other grain plants, causing huge farmer losses. None of the various coping mechanisms in use have proven to be foolproof.

The Integrated Striga Management in Africa project has embarked on a strategy to coat maize seeds with a mixture of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. The herbicide-coated maize seed kills Striga before it damages the maize crop.

The project donated a $37,000 seed-coating machine to the Kenya Seed Company in order to allow trials amongst farmers in the country’s Nyanza and Western provinces, according to a report by news agency Xinhua.

Cooperating partners in the seven year project to devise the technology are the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMTY), BASF Chemical Company and African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF).

An AATF official said, “The weed causes between 10 percent and 20 percent grain yields loss in many fields in western Kenya, affecting over 250,000 hectares. It is worst in the Lake Victoria basin, and farmers lose 300,000 tonnes of maize every year in the region.”

He said small scale farmers whose maize yields are typically about half a tonne per hectare should be able to raise them to two tonnes a hectare with the treated seeds.

The Kenya Seed Company is to produce and distribute 40 tonnes of Ua Kayongo H1 coated maize variety for farmers in Nyanza and Western provinces this planting season.

.African Agriculture

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