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New Publications: Maize Lethal Necrosis survey reveals farmer impact, future needs

May 16, 2016

NAIROBI, Kenya (CIMMYT) – When a strange maize disease suddenly appeared in 2011 in Bomet, a small town 230 kilometers (143 miles) west of Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi, scientists from CIMMYT and Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organization were thrown into disarray. The disease, later identified as Maize Lethal Necrosis (MLN), became a nightmare for maize scientists leading many to work around the clock to find a solution to stop its rapid spread. As intensive research and screening work started, it became apparent that there was a dire need to fill a glaring information gap on the disease, particularly regarding MLN’s geographic distribution, the number of farmers affected, the levels of yield loss and the impact of those losses.

To address this gap, surveys were conducted with groups of male and female farmers in over 120 sub-locations of Kenya’s maize production zones in a recent study “Community-survey based assessment of the geographic distribution and impact of maize lethal necrosis (MLN) disease in Kenya.”  The results estimate maize losses from MLN at half a million tons per year with the highest losses reported in western Kenya.  The study identified an urgent need to develop improved maize varieties resistant to MLN and emphasized the need for farmers to be informed and adapt appropriate agronomic practices to cope with the disease.

Read more about this research and other related studies on MLN from CIMMYT Scientists.

  • Community-survey based assessment of the geographic distribution and impact of maize lethal necrosis (MLN) disease in Kenya. 2016. Hugo De Groote, Francis Oloo, Songporne Tongruksawattana, Biswanath Das. Crop Protection Volume 82, April 2016, Pages 30–35
  • MLN pathogen diagnosis, MLN-free seed production and safe exchange to non-endemic countries. 2015. Monica Mezzalama, Biswanath Das, B. M. Prasanna
  • Genome-wide association and genomic prediction of resistance to maize lethal necrosis disease in tropical maize germplasm. 2015. Manje Gowda, Biswanath Das, Dan Makumbi, Raman Babu, Kassa Semagn, George Mahuku, Michael S. Olsen, Jumbo M. Bright, Yoseph Beyene, B. M. Prasanna. Theoretical and Applied Genetics