Are you wondering what are the emerging issues in maize farming in Kenya? In this post, we highlight the free agriculture applications (Agriculture Apps) that each maize grower should install and use often. You will use them to select the best seed variety for your region, manage pests and diseases and learn the best agronomic practice. The majority are from the KALRO.
Maize is arguably the most important crop in Kenya. It is the country’s number one staple food. As the most grown food and cash crop, it has farmers across the entire country. According to 2019 census results, 91% of 5.6 million farming households grow maize.
Given its importance to food security, it has a lot of national attention to improve its yields. Some strides are the use of data and technology. As a smart farming initiative, bodies like the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization (KARLO) provide several mobile applications for corn growers in the country. They are free to use and aims to tackle the sectors’ worst challenges.
Recently, maize yields are on a constant decline as it faces various challenges. The major ones are poor soils, climate change, pests and diseases like the fall armyworms (FAW) and the maize lethal necrosis disease (MNLD). Others are poor farming practices and poor seed selection.
Seed selection agriculture apps
The majority of maize farmers lack access to certified seed. If you plant recycled ones, it will result in low-quality yields. You can use simple and free innovations to choose the best maize seed variety for your region. It is by using any of the following Mobile apps;
KALRO GLS Maize Varieties App
The Green leaf spot (GLS) is a leaves fungal disease affecting maize. The corn leaves develop light to grey lesions that can kill entire leaves. The KALRO app will educate you on the resistant or tolerant varieties you can plant. Besides, it will teach you about field hygiene, crop rotation and tillage to reduce its risks. Download the KALRO GLS maize varieties app here.
Mahindi Bora for Coastal and Lowland Regions App
As its Swahili name suggests, “Mahindi Bora” means the best maize seed varieties. Use this if your farm is in the coastal and lowland regions. You can use it if your farm is in the lowland counties of Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Machakos, Kitui, Makueni and Kajiado counties. The coastal region is in Kwale, Kilifi, Lamu, Taita Taveta and Tana River counties. You can download the application here.
Mahindi Bora for Medium Altitudes App
Use this if you grow maize in medium-altitude zones. It is the transition zone between the lowland and highland zones of Embu, Meru, Nyeri, Muranga, and Kiambu if you are in the central region. The seeds are suitable for the farmers in the western areas of Busia Bungoma, Kakamega, Vihiga and Siaya Counties. You can download the app here.
Mahindi Bora for Highlands Region App
It is for maize farmers in the highland zones. The western highland regions are in West Pokot, Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Nandi, Kericho and Bomet counties. The Central highlands zone is spread in Laikipia, Nyandarua and Nyeri counties. The mahindi bora for highland regions free tool lists the best maize varieties for those regions. Download it here.
Mbegu Choice Mobile App
Mbegu choice is an online-based database with over 61 maize seed varieties. It allows you to type your county’s name. From a drop-down menu, select your ecological region of where your farm is situated. It can be coastal, dry-land, mid-altitude and highland zones. The platform will allow you to type in the crop type. You can filter the list by giving preferred seed qualities like preferred maturity period, drought and disease tolerance and your planting season.
Compared to the above apps, Mbegu choice has other crop types like beans, cassava, Irish potatoes and sorghum. Mbegu choice is available in two national English and Swahili. You can download the android app or access it online.
Maize Pest and Disease Control Apps
You will use them to monitor for pest infestation and guide you to control them. KALRO has three mobile applications for maize pests and diseases. They are on FAW, GLS and MLND.
Fall Armyworm (FAW) App
In 2017, the FAW destroyed over 0.8 million hectares of maize farms in Kenya. It was a direct effect on over 40% of maize growers in over 22 counties. In terms of yields, the state lost over 16 million bags of maize besides unquantified wheat, sorghum and barley.
Given their voraciousness, The KARLO has a FAW App for farmers. You can use it to learn about the pest, how to control it or report it. You can download the app here.
Control MLND App
In 2013, the MLND infested over 26000 hectares of maize farms leading to a Ksh 2 billion loss. The following season 2014/15, it destroyed over 60,000 hectares. The effect was a 10% decline in the annual maize yields.
The KARLO has an MLN disease app for all maize farmers. The educational tool has information on symptoms and signs of MLN disease, transmission modes and a list of resistant maize seed varieties you can plant. You can download the app here.