Farmers across the country are set to benefit with modified maize seed varieties resistant to stem borer once the ongoing trial under the Bt Maize Project is complete.
The trial of the variety which is being spearheaded by Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) in partnership with Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) which is in its final stage has so far shown a high level of success.
During media training at KALRO in Embu, James Karanja, one of the scientists in KALRO said the new technology (Bt Technology) involves application of Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt) bacteria which helps in control of stalk borer in maize.
Karanja said the new technology has been in use globally since 1997 however Kenya adopted the technology in 2010 and the research has been going on until 2019 when KALRO started the trial of the new technology in maize which is expected to be concluded in August this year.
He said the trial started in the lab, and then extended to a green house before it was done on a confined field (Confined Field Trial) whose results are very successful.
Karanja said the results are taken to KEPHIS who are supposed to conduct an independent national trial (National Performance Trial) on the new variety after which once the trial is successful will approved by National Biosafety Authority (NBA) will see farmers use the variety during the short rains season this year.
The officer further said the new technology is being used in varieties which are already in the market after realizing they are being adversely affected by the pest.
Karanja said the new technology will be a boost to food security and contribute to the big four agenda of food security by reducing the loss caused by pests which amount to about 20 million bags every year.
Apart from reducing the loss, Karanja said the high level of use of pesticides which have contributed to cancer related illnesses will drastically reduce once the new technology comes into use.
In Embu the officer said the county has capacity of cultivating 140, 000 acres of maize however noted the county has underutilized its land in maize production, only 80, 000 acres currently under maize.
The new technology in maize which has been approved in cotton (Bt cotton) is being conducted in six counties; Kakamega, Kisumu, Embu, Kiambu, Kirinyaga and Busia.