Artificial inoculation of maize germplasm at the MLN screening site in Naivasha, Kenya. Photo: B. Wawa/CIMMYT.
The first screening activity for the 2017A planting cycle from March to May is set to begin in May 2017 at the joint Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO)–International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) maize lethal necrosis (MLN) artificial inoculation screening site at Naivasha, Kenya.
Deadline for interested private and public sector organizations to send their maize germplasm for screening is March 30, 2017 to enable processing imports and clear seed shipment that takes between six to eight weeks. Planting is due to start at the first week of May 2017.
Since its establishment in 2013 as a response to the MLN outbreak, the screening facility has so far screened over 60,000 entries from 16 private and public institutions including seed companies and national research organizations in Africa and beyond. The facility was established with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture.
In the fight to prevent and control the spread of maize lethal necrosis (MLN) across Eastern Africa, the support and cooperation of everyone involved in maize production is crucial—especially farmers. This was the main focus of CIMMYT’s 4th stakeholders meeting, held 15 October in Kenya, which brought together 56 local farmers as well as community leaders, administrators, government extension officers, KALRO and CIMMYT staff. The meeting was held to share new information on MLN and agree on the best methods to control the incidence and spread of the disease.
In September 2011, reports came of a devastating new maize disease in the Southern Rift Valley of Kenya. The symptoms were described as mottling of the leaves, small cobs with few grains, and necrosis of young leaves leading to “dead heart” and eventually plant death. It was common for affected fields to show 100 percent infection rates, meaning that some farmers faced losing the entire crop.
By October 2012, a study team sent by CIMMYT and the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) confirmed the disease to be maize lethal necrosis (MLN).
Maize Lethal Necrosis (MLN) disease has continued to wreak havoc on maize production in East Africa since it was first reported in Kenya in 2011, and since then reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Sudan and Uganda. The disease, caused by a combination of the Maize Chlorotic Mottle Virus (MCMV) and Sugarcane Mosaic Virus (SCMV), causes irreversible damage that kills maize plants before they can grow and yield grain.