Biotech maize could help boost food security in Kenya, a researcher has said.
Murenga Mwimali, team leader for the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) Kenya, told journalists during a field visit to Makueni that Kenya currently loses 13 percent of its total maize harvest to the stem borer pest.
“Therefore if farmers adopt biotech maize that is resistant to the pest, it can help enhance yields and in the process improve Kenya’s food security,” Mwimali said during a tour of the Kenya Livestock and Agriculture Research Organization (KALRO) site in Kiboko which is approxiamtley 160 kilometers southeast of Kenya’s capital Nairobi where experiments on BT maize are ongoing.
Maize is the staple food in the East African nation. Government data indicates that Kenya’s annual maize production stands at approximately 3.6 million tonnes but has to import an additional 400,000 tonnes to meet demand.
Mwimali said that between 70 to 80 percent of Kenya’s maize is produced by small scale farmers whose average yield is 1.5 tonnes per hectare.
“The yield is unfavorable when compared to global average yield of 4.9 tonnes per hectare. So one of the ways to improve our farmers productivity is if they embrace BT maize as well as other good agronomic practices,” he said.
The WEMA project is public private partnership between KALRO, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Monsanto and African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) that aims to develop Genetically Modified maize that is both insect and drought resistant. Enditem