Felister Makini, KALRO (Crop System)
Maize, one of Africa’s most important food crops, is under real threat because of maize lethal necrosis (MLN). The disease has adversely affected maize fields in Kenya and its neighbors (DR Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan). There are fears that it is spreading rapidly across most maize-growing areas in the region, causing massive losses to both farmers and seed companies. Unless urgent measures are taken, it could get out of control and lead to a major food crisis in the region.
But what are the implications for farmers and seed companies currently bearing the brunt of MLN? This is a question that scientists, policy makers, regulators and seed companies tried to answer during the recently concluded International Conference on MLN Diagnostics and Management in Africa, held in Nairobi on 12-14 May 2015.
As you will see in this video, despite the grim realities of MLN, the ringing message to farmers from B.M. Prasanna, Global Maize Program Director, is “Hope, hope, hope!”
This message of optimism that a solution will be found was mirrored by others. “We will be successful; we should not feel defeated,” said Joe DeVries, Director of the Program for Africa Seed Systems in Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
Other key speakers at the conference included Stephen Mugo, CIMMYT’s Regional Representative for Africa, Gary Atlin, Senior Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, George Bigirwa, AGRA’s Head of the Regional Team for East and Southern Africa, and Felister Makini, Deputy Director of Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research in charge of cropping systems.
View the full video of key speakers above or here.