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Masindi farmers trained to fight maize disease

By Christopher Bendana

Added 31st May 2017 03:37 PM

The farmers were taught several aspects of fighting Maize Lethal Necrosis.

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The farmers were taught several aspects of fighting Maize Lethal Necrosis.

(Credit: Christopher Bendana)

Some 200 seed outgrower farmers from Masindi district have been trained in preventive and management techniques against Maize Lethal Necrosis (MLN).

The training that took place at FINCA offices in Masindi town on Tuesday was conducted by scientists from the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) and International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).

MLN is a viral maize disease caused by two viruses.

According to Godfrey Asea, a maize breeder and director at the National Crops Resources Research Institute Namulonge, the disease was first reported in eastern Uganda in 2012, reportedly from Kenya.

The farmers were taught several aspects of fighting MLN.

They were taught the importance of knowing the disease history in seed production field. They were also taught the importance of soil testing to guide fertilizer use.

Other areas included using clean equipment, early planting, crop rotation as well as buffer zones to protect main crops from insect feeding.

Francis Mwatuni, a scientist based in Nairobi, addressed the workshop. (Credit: Christopher Bendana)

Mariam Makeba, an outgrower seed farmer with 50 acres of maize fields spread in Masindi, Kiryandongo and Hoima districts, said she learnt on how the disease is spread and how to  prevent it.

She also got to know the importance of testing the seeds before planting as the disease can be spread through seed.

Simon Tugonza, an agriculturalist in Bwijanga sub-county, Masindi district said he was going to teach farmers in his area what he had learnt.

Identifying the symptoms of the disease that include withering of the leaves are some of the things he took away from the training.

He also now knows the importance of field surveillance to detect any disease in the field.

Francis Mwatuni, a scientist based at CIMMYT in Nairobi, said the threat from the disease on maize production remains real in the East African region and can cause 100 percent loss.

Maize breeder Godfrey Asea said the training for seed outgrower farmers was important as it helps farmers identify the symptoms of the disease and eliminate any sick plants at an early stage.

He said this stops any chance for the disease creating a reservoir in the place.

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