SeedCo embraces tech, genotype lab set in-house

African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) organised a partnership with a number of organisations to research on Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease (MLND), which is affecting farmers in Sub-Sahara.

The disease was first spotted in the fields of Kenya  September 2011, Diseased plants had symptoms characteristic of virus diseases: a chlorotic mottle on leaves, developing from the base of young whorl leaves upward to the leaf tips; mild to severe leaf mottling; and necrosis developing from leaf margins to the mid-rib.

Necrosis of young leaves led to a “dead heart” symptom, and plant death. Severely affected plants had small cobs with little or no grain set. Plants frequently died before tasseling. All maize varieties grown in the affected areas had similar symptoms.

According to Seed Co’s Group CEO Morgan Nzwere in the recent half-year results ending 30 September 2018 noted that the company has made a significant move in embracing the use of technology with the company set up an in house Genotype laboratory.

The move is seen to ensure that Seed Co become competitive in producing resistant seed varieties going forward.

Seed Co has submitted their first MLND tolerant hybrids to Kenya for testing and the company said the seeds will be available on the market next year 2018.

 AATF Chief Executive Officer Dennis Kyetere said they saw the need to have in place research on the viral disease that was threatening food security in the region.

The best way to control and prevent such Deadly diseases on crops can be:

  • Seed Inspectors can check for Maize lethal necrosis disease (MLND) in seed farms.
  • The best approach for the management of MLND is to employ integrated pest management practices encompassing cultural control such as closed season, crop rotation and crop diversification, vector control using seed treatment followed by foliar sprays, and host-plant resistance.
  • There is a need to have regulation by governments to impose a quarantine on the movement of maize materials from affected areas within a country.