By Katharine MacMahon/ Media Manager, Shamba Shape Up
As the new season of Shamba Shape Up, Kenya’s hit TV series, gets under way, CIMMYT and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) have been meeting farmers across the region to discuss exciting new developments to grow higher-yielding, disease-resistant maize.
Courtesy of Shamba Shape Up
Shamba Shape Up, the popular farming TV show, is aired twice weekly in both English and Swahili to over 10 million viewers across the eastern Africa. The show covers a wide range of topics from rainwater harvesting to certified seeds … and anything in between! On 14 April, the Shamba Shape Up team, along with a host of experts, visited famers Robert and Grace on their shamba (Swahili for “farm”) in Siaya County.
Robert and Grace were having problems with their maize crop, as the field was being plagued by striga problems. Striga, otherwise known as Kiongo or Witch Weed, can cause devastation to a maize crop by attaching itself to the crop’s roots and feeding off it for water and nutrients until the crop dies. In western Kenya, over 300,000 hectares of maize are poisoned by striga weed. Gospel Omanga from AATF discussed the importance of stopping the striga weed in its tracks before it kills his whole crop with Robert. Gospel suggested planting IR maize in Robert’s fields as a way of ending his striga weed problems.
Photo courtesy of Shamba Shape Up
IR maize is a new type of seed that is immune to striga and kills off the pest at the same time. The IR maize seeds are covered in herbicide which kills both the striga that tries to attach the plant and other striga seeds (one striga plant can deposit over 50,000 seeds at once) in the nearby soil. IR maize and its herbicides are so effective that after eight seasons of use, striga can be banished from a field. Gospel tells the farmers that using IR maize is the most effective solution to the striga weed; more so than pulling them out as Robert had been doing in the past.
To learn more about striga weed and IR maize, please watch the episode, and all the other Shamba Shape Up episodes online at www.shambashapeup.com. To get an informational leaflet from the episode, please SMS your name, address & CIMMYT, MAIZE, IR MAIZE, STRIGA to 30606 (Kenya only) and Shamba Shape Up will post it to you for free!