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Freshco Seeds in Kenya and Tanseed International Ltd in Tanzania were the proud recipients of seed treaters acquired through the Striga Control in Maize project to boost their production of StrigAway Imazapyr Resistant maize seed. The seed treaters which were installed and launched in September 2014 bring efficiency in coating the maize seed with the Imazapyr herbicide which controls Striga weed infestation in maize. They will reduce time taken to coat the seed, increase accuracy, uniformity and drying, factors that will enhance the effectiveness of the herbicide coated maize seed to control Striga. The end result will be quality seed in desired quantities for smallholder farmers in the two countries.
Left: Staff from Freshco Seeds and Bayer during the commissioning of the seed treater in Kenya
Previously, the two companies used fabricated manually operated treaters that made the seed coating process time consuming and resulted in unevenly coated seed. The current seed treaters have capacity to coat three tonnes of seed per hour while the fabricated and manually driven treater takes a day to coat about one tonne of seed. The use of the treaters will enhance access to quality seed by smallholder farmers and enhance maize production.
The Striga weed infests more than 900,000 hectares of land in the two countries and can cause yield losses ranging from 20- 80 percent or total crop failure in severe infestation.
During the same period, Kenya Seed Company (KSC) joined the efforts to fight the weed in Kenya by launching its StrigAway IR maize variety H528 which was marketed to farmers for the first time during the 2014 short rains season that began in August. Freshco Seeds also sold its variety FRC425 IR for the second season.