by Peter Mutai
MOMBASA (Xinhua) -- Scientists from an
international maize research organization said Thursday that a
deadly maize disease that has ravaged farms across eastern
Africa since 2011 has been contained.
Prasanna, director of global maize program at the International
Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, said the maize lethal
necrosis disease (MLN) is under control in the region but not
"We have managed to contain the spread of the disease within
the region but continue to monitor its movements," Prasanna told
a pan-African seed congress in Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa.
He attributed the success to collaborative efforts from
governments, farmers and research institutions in the region.
A survey conducted in late 2018 in eastern and southern
Africa showed that there was no MLN in Malawi, Mozambique,
Zimbabwe and Zambia, Prasanna said
"Tackling the MLN has been a challenge in the continent, but
so far the success has been achieved through integration of
various components," he added.
The scientist said incidence of the disease is falling in
Kenya but continues to spread to other regions in Uganda.
Prasanna called on governments and partners to step up
awareness in western and northern Africa.
The disease "moves so fast and it is difficult to predict
where it will be spotted next, hence the need to intensify
awareness amongst the farmers," he added.
Prasanna said an array of new measures, including the use of
legumes to stop growing maize crop for at least two months, need
to be taken to keep the disease away from the farms.
According to scientist, some 30 elite lines converted into
MLN resistant versions, 15 MLN-tolerant hybrids have been
released in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, and an additional five
hybrids are now under commercialization.
The varieties have been developed at an MLN screening
facility in Naivasha, south-central Kenya.
Prasanna said that since 2014, researchers at the center have
screened 175,173 germplasm from the center, regional research
institutions and private seed companies.
"Most of the germplasm that were screened between 2014 and
2018 were found resistant to MLN," he said.
Prasanna said the same effort against MLN need to be applied
in the management of fall armyworm that is equally threatening
maize species in the continent.
Official says counterfeit
seeds worsen food insecurity in Africa
MOMBASA (Xinhua) --
An influx of counterfeit and sub-standard seeds
have worsened food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa, a trade
organization official said on Thursday.
Michael Keller, secretary general of the International Seed
Federation (ISF), said robust interventions are key to ensuring
that African small-holder farmers have access to high quality
but affordable seeds.
"There is need to adopt a harmonized approach to ensure
African farmers have access to certified seeds that are
resistant to pests, diseases and climatic shocks," Keller told a
pan-African congress on seeds in Kenya’s coastal city of
Keller called on African governments to collaborate and put
in place a harmonized phytosanitary system to help control the
movement of new pests in the continent.
"The system will help the continent access high quality and
innovative seeds for farmers to enable them reap maximum
profit," he said.
The move will also help motivate seed firms to deliver
quality seed to their customers, Keller said.
"The system will facilitate trade and maintain access to high
quality seeds by farmers at a reasonable cost," he said, noting
that seeds are the main transmitters of diseases.
"You have to increase awareness and strengthen enforcement of
counterfeit seeds to save farmers from making losses," Keller
He urged support for African countries to enact intellectual
property rights and called on the private sector to ensure
small-holder farmers have access to certified seeds in a timely
Chinese seed companies
showcase quality seeds at Kenya’s congress
MOMBASA (Xinhua) --
Two Chinese seed companies are among a number of
global seed companies that are exhibiting at this year’s
pan-African seed congress Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa.
Pang Seed and Winall-Tech Seed companies are among 39 local
and international firms that are exhibiting at the congress.
Pang Ruilin, chief executive officer of Pang Seed, said the
company is showcasing quality vegetable seeds.
The company’s varieties are already being sold in Algeria,
Egypt and Angola, where it has offices, he said.
Pang said his cucumber, tomato, water melon and curly flower
seeds are very popular on the African market and that his firm
plans to open offices in other African countries.
Winall-Tech Seed Company Commercial Manager for Africa Bu
Juesheng said his company has concentrated in selling vegetable
seeds because they do not require heavy machinery.
"We breed and sell seeds that are suitable for smallholder
farmers to help improve their income and food security," he
Bu said his company, which also sells rice and maize seed
varieties in Angola and Mali respectively, plans to open another
branch in Sierra Leon and additional others in eastern and
southern Africa in 2020.
Riadh Gabsi, president of African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA),
said the Mombasa congress is an opportunity for Chinese
companies to explore the market and share their varieties with
He said a number of Chinese seed companies have also
registered as members of AFSTA, making the association one of
the strongest globally.