Fostering food security in smallholder farms in Striga weed hotspots of Kenya

Every year, Striga damage to crops accounts for more than US$ 1 billion in yield loss in SSA, and affects the welfare and livelihoods of over 100 million people. In SSA, the weed infests some 20 million ha, while in Kenya alone, it is estimated that over 200,000 ha of land are infested with Striga causing crop losses amounting to nearly 400,000 tons worth US$ 80 million per year.

In the last one year (2011), AATF has facilitated agro-dealer access to IR maize seed through Seed Credit system to prime demand. We have registered 98% repayment by the agro-dealers, who then are gradually weaned off as they become endowed with resources to acquire seeds on their own. The payoff of this system has been tremendous, with some 25 tons of certified IR maize being sold to farmers since September 2010 – November 2011. This directly impacts the lives of at least 12,000 farm household members. Grain yields have been increased from an average of 0.5 kg/ha to at least a 1 ton and some farms going up to 1.5 tonnes/ha.

In addition to promoting sales by agro-dealers, AATF has build capacity of Agro-dealers in handling and use of the imazapyr-resistance (IR) maize technology. Seed companies invited to these agro-dealer training workshops have helped foster the link between demand and supply, and in fact 2 more seed companies are now actively engaged in certified IR maize seed production. This will ease the key bottleneck of timely availability of sufficient quantities of IR maize seed before the season starts. Farmer Rashid captures what the IR maize technology did in his life this year – “Some farmers were asking me what you did do to your farm? We never harvested anything and we planted at the same time!

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