Jun. 7, 2013
Two new varieties of hybrid maize that are resistant to the deadly parasitic Striga weed have been developed by a Kenyan scientist. Dr. Mathews Dida, a maize breeder in the school of agriculture and food security at Maseno University, developed two maize varieties that produce a natural chemical that suppresses the growth of Striga weed, also known as witch-weed. The weed affects cereal crops in many parts of Africa and is a major cause of crop failure in East Africa, where climate change has been driving its spread in recent years.
The varieties are undergoing Distinctness Uniformity and Stability tests, which are done by seed regulators like Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS) to establish if a newly developed seed variety is clearly distinguishable from existing varieties on the market. The varieties will be available for commercial production by the end of 2014. Striga weed destroys crops estimated to be worth US$10-38 million per year in Kenya.