Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organisation Researchers have unveiled a series of new maize varieties that are resilient to the destructive armyworm, offering a ray of hope to farmers who have suffered immense losses for over six years.

Speaking on the significance of these new seeds, Maurice Makaa, a small-scale farmer in Makueni County, expressed relief, stating, “The pests would destroy the entire crop, but with these resistant seeds, we have a chance to safeguard our food and livelihoods.”

Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organisation director general Eliud Kireger emphasized the importance of these new seeds in combating the spread of the perilous migratory pest, stating, “The approval of FAWTH2001, FAWTH2002, and FAWTH2003 maize varieties marks a pivotal moment in our fight against armyworm infestations.”

Furthermore, the launch of a US$500,000 agricultural infrastructure, supported by donors through the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CiMMYT), aims to bolster farmers’ production capacity.

CiMMYT director Prassana Boddupalli highlighted the collaborative efforts behind the development of these armyworm-tolerant maize varieties, emphasizing their potential to enhance farmers’ resilience to climate change shocks and boost agricultural productivity in the coming years.

Kalro assistant director Zachary Kinyua commended the successful reduction in crop damage caused by armyworms, attributing it to a concerted effort by the government and stakeholders. With these climate-smart technologies at their disposal, farmers are poised to benefit from increased yields and improved resilience against pests and drought, as stated by maize breeder James Karanja.