Disease Tolerance

Western seed has undertaken two major projects to assist smallholder farmers to fight the dangerous Striga weed.

Ua Kayongo

This project is being undertaken in partnership with CIMMYT and BASF.

Desmodium

This project is being undertaken in partnership with ICIPE through the PUSH PULL technology.

Ua Kayongo

Striga weed, popularly known as Kayongo (Luo) or Oluyongo (Luhya), is a parasitic weed that destroys cereal crops, particularly maize, leading to food insecurity in thousands of households. Striga feeds upon sugars, mineral nutrients and moisture of its host and may result in complete loss under the worst of conditions.

A new maize hybrid, Ua Kayongo that is coated with Strigaway Western and Nyanza provinces to control Striga infestation in maize. The herbicide kills germinating Striga as it attempts to attack maize. Ua Kayongo is planted and managed much in the same way as other maize varieties by using recommended tillage, spacing, fertilizer and regular weeding. However, Ua Kayongo cannot be planted in the same hole as intercropped legumes and farmers should thoroughly wash their hands after handling it, to avoid contaminating other seeds with the Strigaway TM herbicide was introduced in TM herbicide.

Desmodium

Desmodium is a leguminous plant whose leaves are nutritious livestock feeds which increase milk production. The plant also provides ground cover, thus covering the soils from erosion.

The plant also increases nitrogen in the soil because it is a nitrogen fixing plant.

Other than the above benefits, the crop is used in the push pull technology to control striga weed and stem borers.

How striga weed affects the maize crop

  • Striga attaches roots on the maize Striga weed puts its roots into the roots of the maize plant.
  • Striga weed takes the food the maize crop is trying to get before the maize uses it .

How Desmodium controls Striga weed

  • Desmodium is planted between the rows of the maize crop.
  • Maize-Desmodium farm Desmodium covers the soil thus preventing striga weed from growing on the maize.
  • As Desmodium is a perennial crop, it controls Striga even when the host crop is out of season, making it a better repellent than other legumes.
  • It also secretes a chemical that does not favour Striga growth.