News / Africa

Mystery Maize Disease Strikes Kenya Farms

Mystery Maize Disease Strikes Kenya Farmsi
|| 0:00:00
X
Alex Pena
June 19, 2012 5:58 PM
A mysterious maize disease is sweeping through Kenya’s small farming communities. VOA's Alex Pena reports on the possible threat to Kenya's food security.

Mystery Maize Disease Strikes Kenya Farms

Alex Pena
BOMET, Kenya - A maize disease is sweeping through Kenya’s small farming communities and, in the South Rift Valley, there are few who haven’t been affected.

Holding up evidence of his dying maize crop, a farmer in the Kenyan community of Bomet is the latest to become entangled in the maize mystery.  

“Everything is affected, The five acres [2 hectares], all the way," he says pointing toward his fields, "is all affected.”

The problem has prompted the local farming leader, assistant police chief and the CEO of a cereal growers association in Nairobi to visit the small farm.

“They gave us information, after the first rain in January, that it must be something with the rain," says Sigei Aron, the farming leader.

Assistant police chief Samsung Ngetich suspects the problem lies elsewhere. “I think there was a supply of the wrong seed,”

“How would all those companies give the wrong seed, at the same time, in the same area?” asks David Nyameino, who heads the cereal grower's association.

Nyameino, who considers himself a maize expert, examines the farmer's dry, yellowish crop.

“At this stage, this should be green maize," he says. "But there's no maize...this is what should have been maize, but it’s already dead.”

The Kenyan government estimates 40 percent or more of the South Rift Valley's maize crop has been affected.

Stopping the mysteriously spreading disease is Nyameino's number one priority.

“The area that gives Kenya real maize is in the North Rift," Nyameino says. "If this disease appears in the north rift, Kenya will become hopeless in terms of food...Kenyans believe maize is the food security for the country."

It’s unclear what makes the disease spread. Some believe it's the wind or insects, or both. Limited information is also a problem.

“What is lacking here is awareness of what should be done," Nyameino says, adding that the farmers are receiving contradictory information. "They are saying that they have been advised the stocks should not be fed to the animals, but the current information we have from the government is there is no problem to feed the animals with the stock.”

Aron, the local farming leader, planted a test field in search of answers. He successfully grew sweet potatoes here, and in the same field as the disease-infected maize, he grew millet, another staple food for Kenya.

Although that's a positive sign, assistant police chief Ngetich predicts the worst.

“We are fearing the children might not go to school next time, and also there will be no food for the community," he says. "So we need help, if there can be somewhere, so we can assist these people, to cut down this and maybe to plant short season crops to save their lives."

Meanwhile, the group continues to investigate, looking for a cause and trying to solve the mystery, in hopes of saving lives.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid