In the aftermath of an international conference on the diagnosis and management of maize lethal necrosis (MLN) in Africa in May 2015; the global research and development community vowed to step up efforts to find lasting solutions to the endemic disease in Kenya and Tanzania.
In a video published recently by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), MLN researchers say they are close to a breakthrough in developing MLN tolerant maize varieties, that will help farmers in East Africa successfully fight the disease.
The outbreak and rapid spread of MLN in East Africa is one of the key challenges to food security in the region because it affects the productivity of the widespread smallholder maize-based agricultural systems as well as the commercial maize production sector in the region.
Through the Africa RISING program and other initiatives, CIMMYT has been leading research efforts to develop maize varieties that are resistant to MLN using a crop-livestock intensification approach to improve the productivity of smallholder agricultural systems in Babati District, Tanzania. Through the initiative the researchers are also seeking to understand MLN epidemiology to develop suitable and integrated solutions to manage the threat posed by the disease.
Some promising maize hybrids have been identified by the Africa RISING project team, but more testing is required to validate how these varieties respond to the disease in hotspot areas under different agronomic and cultural practices.