Written by Carolyn Wamalwa
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Agriculture minister Dr. Sally Kosgey has revealed that her ministry in collaboration with agricultural research institutes has identified the disease causing agents of the new maize disease which is reported to have affected the crop in various parts of the country, and guaranteed the farmers that measures have been put into place to tame it from spreading further.
Kosgey said that the infection characterized by streak and withering of the maize crop has been confirmed to be caused by pathogens of virus and fungus and not seed borne, thus there was no need for alarm, since it was highly unlikely to spread to other areas through seed distribution.
Dr. Sally kosgey the minister for Agriculture in a past function in Nandi County where she distributed maize seeds and fertilizer from the NCPB officials. Photo | Shillah Mwadosho | West Fm
“The disease affects all varieties of maize and we have confirmed that it is not seed borne. There is therefore no fear of spreading the disease through seeds that are supplied by companies,” she said.
The case which Kosgey confirms as the first to have ever been reported could be controlled in a myriad of measures including practising crop rotation, use of certified seeds, avoiding movement of plant materials from infested regions to other regions as well as use of manure and top dressing fertilizers which will in turn boosts plant vigor and enhances resistance.
Earlier reports of the maize infections were reported in Central Rift valley areas including Bomet and subsequently in Chepalungu, Narok North and Naivasha districts; and that it has been established that about 3200 hectares of crop were affected with a loss of 6000 tons recorded in the last season.
Read: Nandi County farmers put on alert over strange maize disease
The minister further asked farmers to ignore claims suggesting that the disease could be spread through newer seed varieties, requesting them to liaise with extension officers for clarification at all times as well as access vital information regarding new edge farming.
However Kosgey was quick to adjoin that no farmer who was affected by the disease will receive compensation from the ministry, and cited that her ministry in collaboration with various stakeholders had commenced on various activities aimed at forestalling the spread of the disease.
Such measures will range from awareness creation, demonstration on vector control, disease surveillance, and promotion of alternative crop.
She however, downplayed rumors that the incident will result to food shortage, stating that they were misleading and that though her ministry was still assessing the extent of damage, adequate control measures were in place.
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