|Harambee Pulling Together for Kenya (KARI, 32 p.)|
Dr. Jackson Njuguna, plant pathologist at the Muguga National Agricultural Research Center, is working to improve resistance to the maize streak virus.
The Central Province of Kenya, with its fertile red soil and usually adequate rainfall, supplies Nairobi with much of its food.
The crucial maize crop is sometimes hit hard by Maize Streak Virus (MSV). Losses can run to 50 percent or more in seriously affected areas.
KARI researchers at the Muguga National Agricultural Research Center are striving to incorporate resistance to the disease in local maize varieties. Dr. Jane Ininda, plant geneticist, and Dr. Jackson Njuguna, plant pathologist, say it is not just a question of finding a resistant or tolerant variety. The plant must also yield enough grain and display other desirable characteristics, or the farmers will not grow it.
Dr. Ininda received a doctoral degree from Iowa State University, and Dr. Njuguna completed his doctorate at Ohio State University. Both benefited through study programs supported by USAID/NARP.
The work in the laboratories, greenhouses and fields at Muguga includes intensive study of the leafhopper, which is the vector that transmits the disease. Through cooperation with scientists in other countries, researchers are searching for the best possible solutions. They already have a package of recommendations, a list that includes early planting, crop rotation, early roguing, intercropping, and chemical control.