Agricultural scientists have developed a new maize variety which is high yielding and pest resistant.
According to scientists from the Kenya Agricultural Research and Livestock Organisation (Karlo), the Bt hybrid maize is also drought resistant.
Karlo scientists said the variety has been researched on for 25 years and subjected to national performance trials in Embu, Kirinyaga and other parts of the country.
One of the scientists, Mr James Karanja, said the genetically modified maize variety can enhance food security if adopted.
“It has proved to be a high yielding variety which can be planted anywhere in Kenya," he told journalists at the Embu Karlo demonstration farm.
He noted that most farmers have been producing an average of three bags of maize per acre of land but the new variety can give them between 20 and 30 bags of maize per acre.
"The Bt maize has the potential to lead to increased food security as well as improving health by enhancing nutrition," he said.
Maize production has been dwindling due to invasion by pests. This has made many farmers to feel discouraged after failing to make profits.
Farmers are slowly ditching maize farming due to high costs of production and unreliable rainfall.
In Embu alone, 71,000 hectares of land are ideal for maize farming but only 45,000 hectares are utilised.
However, the Bt variety has shown resistance to stem borers and the fall armyworm.
“Farmers will reduce production costs because they will not spray the Bt maize which is pest resistant," said Dr Karanja.
The scientists are now waiting for the new variety to be approved by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service, National Biosafety Authority and the National Environment Management Authority so that it can be made available to farmers.
The scientist noted that to produce 52 million bags of maize annually to feed the rising population, the new variety should be allowed.
“Currently, Kenya is dependent on imports because it can't produce enough maize for local consumption," Dr Karanja said.