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FAO trains farmers to tackle lethal maize disease

08 August 2014, 11:22

Nairobi - The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said on Thursday it plans to train more than 6, 000 farmers in Kenya to help tackle the re-emergence of the Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease (MLND) which threatens maize yields across the country.

FAO Country Representative Luca Alinovi said the UN food agency has contributed over 400,000 U.S. dollars over the past two years towards fighting the disease which has affected thousands of hectares in the country.

"This viral disease is moving out very fast and is now spreading to neighbouring countries. We are involved in the process of transferring knowledge among farmers to help understand the disease and thus contain its spread," he added.

His remarks came after the Kenya Agriculture Research Institute (KARI) warned that the country's annual maize production could be adversely affected as the disease spreads at an alarming rate.

KARI Chief Scientist Ann Wangai said the disease has been recorded in all 47 counties, though its intensity was different from one region to another.

Wangai said the research institute was seeking a long term measure to address the disease, adding that there were some promising seed varieties which were under test and tolerant to the MLND.

KARI Maize Breeder, Philip Lelei said the institute is carrying out extensive research to control the spread of the disease and to develop and deploy disease-resistant maize varieties to the farmers as soon as possible.

Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease and unreliable rainfall was the biggest contributor of low yields in maize production in Rift Valley which dropped from 21 million bags to 16 million bags last year.

 - Xinhua

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