Kenyan research centre releases 15 MLND resistant crops

FIFTEEN crops which are immune to maize diseases have been released by an agricultural research centre in Naivasha, Kenya.

The MLND research facility which was established by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre in partnership with the Kenyan Agriculture and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO) has approved resistant genes to 30 varieties adapted for Africa, using molecular marker-assisted breeding.

While addressing participants at the CIMMYT Annual Partners Field Day, Director of the CIMMYT global maize programme, Dr. Prasanna Boddupalli, said there had been no further spread of the disease in Southern Africa and West Africa in the last four years.

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MLND is a viral maize disease caused by co-infection with maize chlorotic mottle virus (MCMV) and other viruses like the sugarcane mosaic virus. It damages crops, causing up to 100 per cent losses and threatening food security in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and other affected countries.

MLND resistant varieties bolster farmers against massive losses attributed to the disease not just in Kenya but around Africa, except Southern Africa.

Dr Boddupalli noted that several seed companies were already implementing voluntary maize chlorotic mottle control programmes and other operational procedures to minimize the risk of seed transmission.

He said that the disease had reduced considerably following the introduction of these resistant crops but the disease still persisted in some parts of the continent like Kenya, Rwanda but that with the adoption of this resistant varieties, the disease would be eliminated.