Varsity researchers win war on "Striga" weed with hybrid maize varieties

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The development of three hybrid maize varieties and one for finger millet by a Maseno University don could offer the solution to massive crop failure as a result of Striga weed.

Led by Prof Mathews Dida, lecturers from the university have developed Maseno EH10, EH11 and EH14 maize varieties, which emit a natural chemical component that suppresses growth of Striga weed in a maize farm.

“I know that my colleagues have developed sterling seeds before and I must admit that it is on some of these initiatives that I have improved mine, but what makes these particular seeds stand out is their ability to eliminate Striga weed in our shambas (farms),” Prof Dida said.

According to the researcher, the agricultural sector suffers close to Sh6.7 billion in losses as a result of Striga weed infestation.

Prof Dida said that tackling the weed and the need to address the perennial food security was the overriding goal of his research that began more than 10 years ago.

“I was trying to solve some of these problems I see in farming. How can we keep importing food yet we have the some of the best climatic conditions to be able to achieve self-sufficiency in food production?” he posed.

When finally taken up together with other varieties already in supply, he said that the country would be able to feed the rest of the East African community bloc.

The researchers also developed Maseno 60D, a code name of the finger millet seed, which they said is not only fast maturing but also suitable for regions that experience low rainfall.

The initiative was partly funded by the National Council for Science and Technology that promotes research and innovation to the tune of Sh1.7 million.

Click to follow link on Businness Daily, Kenya

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