New striga resistant seeds boon for farmers
Maseno University scholars say they have developed maize and millet seed varieties capable of resisting the notorious striga weed, promising hope to farmers who routinely lose out to the herb.
Lead scientist Mathew Dida said the new seeds have a natural adaptation to fight off the destructive weed.
“When you compare them with the normal seeds, ours have capacity to suppress the growth of the weed in maize plantations, for example,” said Prof Dida.
The researcher said their 16-year study has produced maize varieties Maseno EH10, EH11 and EH14 and finger millet variety 60D which can tolerate the weed and mature faster. The weed is a common parasite in sub-Sahara African countries including Kenya.
It thrives by siphoning nutrients and water from host plants such as maize, sorghum and rice, weakening the crops.
The scientists said the varieties can cushion farmers against losses occasioned by the parasitic weed, assuring them of improved harvests.
“From the first day of planting to the harvest date takes about 120 days,” he said.
He said that the country suffers close to Sh6.7 billion losses as a result of the striga weed destruction.