Maize disease creates panic in East Africa
Posted Monday, October 14 2013 at 01:00
The disease was first detected in the maize producing zones of central Rift Valley and has since spread to Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda.
The East African Grain Council has warned that the increased spread of the maize disease within the region will negatively impact the traded volumes.
Executive director Gerald Masila said that the Maize Lethal Necrosis (MLN) disease has already created panic among farmers and other actors across the value chain in many countries. “With the continued spread of the disease some governments have implemented policies to ensure they bolster national food security and this will limit cross-border trade,” he said. He explained that traders were also sceptical of buying maize from the areas that had previously affected by the disease for fear that it may lead to spread of MLN. “Some people believe that if they buy the kernel it will increase the spread of the disease and are keeping away from what is currently in the market,” he said.
MLN was first detected in the maize producing zones of central Rift Valley and has since spread to Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda. Scientists have that the reported disease was spotted in northern parts of Mozambique and separately in South Sudan.
The disease affected an estimated 26,000 hectares in 2012 translating to a loss of over 650,000 bags for 300,000 smallholder farmers in Kenya alone. It is estimated the re-emergence of the disease this year has so far affected some 18,500 hectares of the crop that is staple to the EAC region.
A government directive to have the affected maize uprooted and burnt in order to curb spread of the disease has left farmers in reeling in losses. Mr Masila said that the grain council had also taken a survey to determine the real extent of the disease to output production within the country.