Kenyan Smallholders Undeterred Despite Lethal Maize Disease

The Maize Lethal Necrosis (MLN) that has been ravaging the critical staple crop across East Africa since 2011 is yet to diminish the passion of local smallholder farmers.

Despite rollout of robust interventions to contain the disease, it remains a big threat to food and nutritional security in a region that is grappling with other challenges like population growth, shrinking arable land and climate change.

Kenyan smallholders have borne the brunt of ravages of Maize Lethal Necrosis and a significant number of them were at some point forced to replace cultivation of the cereal with other crops.

"I had to abandon maize cultivation and embraced Napier grass due to dismal harvest occasioned by the lethal Maize Lethal Necrosis," said Purity Wanjiku, a farmer in Naivasha region located 90 kilometers northwest of Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

The middle-aged farmer told Xinhua during a visit at her farm on Wednesday that the last three years have been bad since the outbreak of MLN that has devastated maize planted by large and small scale farmers.

Joslin Isaacson/HarvestPlus


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