Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Increasing yields through improved and adaptable maize seeds

By Bob Aston
The Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) in collaboration with the Agricultural Sector Development Support Programme (ASDSP)-Laikipia, held a training workshop on adaptable seeds for 30 maize value chain groups on March 3, 2016 at Nyaki Hotel in Nyahururu.
Speaking during the training, Mr. Jonah Kahwai, KEPHIS-Nakuru Field Inspector said that access to improved and adaptable seeds is crucial for the food and income security for farmers. He noted that many farmers experience poor yields due to planting wrong seed varieties.
Mr. Jonah Kahwai,KEPHIS training maize group leaders on adaptable seeds

“It is important for farmers to grow seeds which grown well in their geographical zone. Quality of seed is paramount for successful crop production,” said Mr. Kahwai.
He urged farmers from dry parts of Laikipia to plant early maturing seed varieties, as they are tolerant to drought conditions and low nitrogen in the soil. Early maturing varieties include KATCB,DH01 to DH10,WS102,PH1, PAN 4M, WS204,WH003,WH101,WH105,SC DUMA,MH04,  and SC PUNDA MILIA.
He said that medium attitude varieties take 4-5 months to mature. The varieties include WH507, WH504, WH505, KH500-33A, KH500-31A, KH500-49A, H624, H512 to H526, DK8031, WE1101, PAN 7M, and PHB30G19.
High attitude varieties include KH600-23A, KH600-14E, KH600-15A, H614, H6213, H629, H628, and FS650. The varieties in this region take up to six months to mature.
He said that KEPHIS as a certifying agency ensures that seed in market is of set quality standards as stipulated in the Seed and Plant Varieties Act Cap 326 of the Laws of Kenya.
He noted that the Seeds and Plant Variety Act gives guidelines on regulating the release and registration of new crop varieties by ensuring the release of only superior crop varieties in terms of yields or other special attributes.
Different type pf grains
“The characteristics used to distinguish seed varieties should be very clear. One has to look at genetic factors, purity, viability, and vigour,” said Mr. Kahwai.
He noted that seed certification ensures that seed sold to farmers meet minimum government set quality standards to maximize their crop production, promote seed trade by complying with set regulations and to curb the spread of seed borne pest/diseases and weeds.
“Contravening the seeds and plants varieties Act 326 is an offense that can attract a fine not exceeding one million shillings or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or both,” said Mr. Kahwai.
He said that KEPHIS also does post seed certification survey. The survey involves inspection of all seed seller’s premises in order to ensure that the seeds in markets have undergone certification, to get feedback from farmers, to ensure that the certification for seed lot is valid, and to ensure operation of only KEPHIS licensed seed sellers.

The maize value chain groups are now planning to start 12 demonstration plots in Laikipia West to test production of 10 different seed varieties.

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