IR Maize - the knight in shining armour

MeboMs Mebo inspecting one of the maize cobs on her farm

Striga has been the main cause of hunger and by extension poverty in many households in Nyanza and western regions of Kenya. Many families have fought the weed popularly known as kayongo to no success by use of various methods such as uprooting the weed, use of manure and inorganic fertilisers. Ms Mebo Chebor from Kiboswa village of Nandi South District was one of such victims of circumstances. The mother of three children has for several years been farming maize on her 0.2 acre piece of land where she used to harvest less than half a bag of maize, thanks to the witchweed.

In 2010 Mebo got information about a new maize seed variety which could kill Striga and hence increase maize yields. She had suffered enough to the extent of drawing money from her clothes business to make up for food expenditure. So she decided to try the new seed by planting one kilo of IR OPV 303 maize variety which had been treated with the herbicide that kills Striga.

To her astonishment she reaped 1.5 bags from a 0.1 acre plot where under normal circumstances she could have only obtained a maximum of 10 gorogoros (2-kg containers). This was a major boost to her food security and also it saved her business which was running low on capital due to frequent withdrawals. Since then Mebo has been planting the IR maize and she cannot hide her joy. Her small piece of land is now nearly free from Striga weed as compared to the neighbouring farms which are heavily infested.

Mebo intends to double her acreage under the IR maize variety in 2012 by obtaining at least 2kg of maize seed which she is now more than willing to buy unlike before when she was relying on donations from the Integrated Striga Management for Africa (ISMA) project. She is not shy to call upon all the other farmers in her location to join her in eradicating poverty by getting rid of kayongo in the area.

JM Ndwiga, AATF

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