Maize Farming in Kenya

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Maize is the staple food in Kenya. Large as well as small-scale farmers produce the crop and a large percentage of the population depends on Maize farming as an income-generating crop.
Maize is a tall annual crop of the grass family. It grows to a height of between 1.5 m and 3 m. From the stalk grows the conical cob on which the grains are found. The grains from the cobs are consumed or milled for maize flour.
Maize Production in Kenya
Maize is harvested in the dry season to avoid incidents of grain rotting in the field. On small farms the maize is left to dry while on the stalks. The cobs are then removed from their husks by hand and taken to the stores.

Maize is periodically dried in the sun until the grains are completely dry. On large farms, the plants are cut and piled in several places in the field in straight heaps. This enables the grains to dry for some period. The cobs are then removed and shelling done usually by machines. The grain is winnowed and packed in sacks.
Maize Processing in Kenya

Bagged maize is transported to the millers. It is weighed and put on trays. It is then sieved to remove any undesired matter, e.g. tiny rock particles and broken cobs. It is then passed through a milling machine which crushes it into flour of various grades.

Maize Marketing in Kenya

Maize in Kenya is mainly sold to the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB). The farmers also sell directly to the millers who are located in major towns of Nairobi, Kisumu, Nakuru and Kitale.

Uses of Maize in Kenya

1. Maize is a staple food in Kenya. The grains are ground to produce maize flour and it is also consumed as a food grain. It may be consumed fresh, ground, boiled or mixed with other foods.
2. The stalks, leaves, and other remains from the maize cobs are used to feed domestic animals especially dairy cattle.
3. The stalks and cobs are used to provide domestic fuel particularly in the rural areas. They are also used as organic manure.
4. The grains are used in manufacture of com oil and animal feeds hence it is a vital raw material for industrialization.

Problems Facing Maize Farming in Kenya

1. High cost of production – Expensive farm inputs e. g. fertilizers which reduce the farmer’s profits.
2. Unstable prices – Fluctuating prices makes it hard for the farmer to plan or at times to even recover their inputs.
3. Climatic hazards – Prolonged drought or unfavorable weather conditions lead to destruction of the crop leading to low yields and income for the farmer.
4. Competition – Flooding of the local markets by cheap imports from COMESA countries and heavily subsidized farmers from the European Union or even from genetically modified grains.
5. Pests and diseases – These attack the crop or even the harvested grains leading to destruction hence loss to the farmers.
6. Mono culture – Prolonged planting of maize has led to soil exhaustion.
7. Poor marketing strategies – These has resulted in farmers selling their crop at throw away prices.

MAIZE VARIETIES

VARIETY YIELD PER ACRE (BAGS) ALTITUDE  RANGE (M) DAYS TO MATURITY
H6213 52 x 90kg 1700-2100 160 – 190
H6212 52 x 90kg 1700-2100 160 – 190
H6210 50 x 90kg 1700-2100 160 – 190
H9401 48 x 90kg 1700-2100 160 – 190
H629 48 x 90kg 1700-2400 160 – 190
H628 46 x 90kg 1500-2100 150 – 180
H627 44 x 90kg 1500-2100 150 – 180
H626 42 x 90kg 1500-2100 150 – 180
H625 40 x 90kg 1500-2100 150 – 180
H614 38 x 90kg 1500-2100 160 – 190
H624 32 x 90kg 1000-1800 140 – 180
H623 28 x 90kg 1000-1800 140 – 190
H516 28 x 90kg 1000-1800 100 – 140
H515 26 x 90kg 1000-1800 120 – 150
H513 24 x 90kg 1000-1800 100 – 150
H511 23 x 90kg 1000-1800 100 – 150
PH4 20 x 90kg 0 – 1200 90 – 120
PH1 15 x 90kg 0 – 1200 75 – 120
DH01 15 x 90kg 800-1200 100 – 120
DH02 15 x 90kg 800 – 1200 100 – 120
DH03 15 x 90kg 800 – 1200 100 – 120
DH04 19 x 90kg 800 – 1200 100 – 120
Katumani Composite 15 x 90 kg 1000-1900 75 – 120
DLC1 13 x 90kg 1000-1900 75 – 120

 

  1. Highland Maize Varieties

These varieties are bred and recommended for medium to high altitudes (1500-2100m) where day temperatures seldom exceed 28 C during growing season and where the night temperatures drop to as low as 8 C. Rainfall requirements ranges from 800-1500mm.Where similar conditions prevail in the highlands of Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia these varieties are recommended.

Recommended growing areas:

These are Highland hybrids grown particularly in Trans-Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Nakuru, Laikipia, Kisii, Narok, Bungoma, Kakamega, Nandi, Kericho.Tea zones of central Kenya,Nyahururu, Southern Highlands of Tanzania, Mt. Elgon slopes,slopes of Mt. Kenya, Bomet,Nyeri, Kiambu and Meru tea zones.

VARIETY AVERAGE
YIELD/ACRE

(90Kg)

PERIOD TO MATURITY

(DAYS)

SPECIAL  ATTRIBUTES
H 6218 56 160-210
  • Blight tolerant
  • Good husk cove cover
  • Semi-flint
H 6213 52 160-210
  • Tolerant to lodging
  • Ear rust,Grey Leaf spot and Leaf blight tolerant
H  6210 50 160-210
  • Good husk cover
  • Semi-flint
  • Tolerant to lodging
  • Ear rust,Grey Leaf spot and Leaf blight tolerant
H 629 48 160-210
  • Good husk cover
  • Ear rust ,Grey Leaf spot and Leaf blight tolerant
H 628 46 160-210
  • Production of more than one cob
  • Tolerant to most leaf diseases,blight and rust
  • Tolerant to lodging
H 626 42 160-210
  • Tolerant to most leaf diseases,blight and rust
  • Tolerant to lodging
H 625 40 160-210
  • Good hush cover
  • Tolerant
H 614 38 160-210
  • Tolerant to blight,leaf and  ear diseases
  • Tolerant to weevil attack

 

2. Medium Altitude Agro-Ecozone ( 1000-1700m)

Some of the varieties in this category include H513, H 515 and H 516. This varieties are commonly grown in coffee growing belts maturing in 4-5 months.The favorable rainfall is between 750- 1000mm.

Recommended growing areas:
These are Highland hybrids grown particularly in Trans-Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Nakuru, Laikipia, Kisii, Narok, Bungoma, Kakamega, Nandi, Kericho.Tea zones of central Kenya, Nyahururu, Southern Highlands of Tanzania, Mt. Elgon slopes,slopes of Mt. Kenya, Bomet,Nyeri, Kiambu and Meru tea zones.
VARIETY AVERAGE
YIELD/ ACRE

(90Kg)

PERIOD TO MATURITY

(DAYS)

SPECIAL ATTRIBUTES
H 520 32 120-130
  • Tolerant to leaf  rust  and Grey Leaf spot
  • Tolerant to lodging
  • Excellent husk cover
H 516 28 100-110
  • Good husk cover
  • Tolerant to lodging
  • Tolerant to ear rot, rust, Grey  Leaf spot ,stem and leaf blight.
H 515 26 100-110
  • Tolerant to lodging
  • Tolerant to leaf blight ,leaf rust and Grey Leaf spot
H 513 24 100-110
  • Partially tolerant to maize streak virus.

3. Transitional Zone

The altitude in this zone falls between 1000-1700m where the temperatures ranges from 12C to 30C and has rainfall similar to that of high altitudes. Hybrid 624 is a typical example in this category.

Recommended growing areas:

These are Highland hybrids grown particularly in Trans-Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Nakuru, Laikipia, Kisii, Narok, Bungoma, Kakamega, Nandi, Kericho.Tea zones of central Kenya,Nyahururu, Southern Highlands of Tanzania, Mt. Elgon slopes,slopes of Mt. Kenya, Bomet,Nyeri, Kiambu and Meru tea zones.

 

VARIETY AVERAGE
YIELD/ ACRE

(90Kg)

PERIOD TO MATURITY

(DAYS)

SPECIAL ATTRIBUTES
H 624 32 120-130
  • Tolerant to Grey Leaf spot, leaf  blight and rust
  • Excellent husk cover
  • Flint kernel

4. Lowland Agro-Ecozone: PH 1 and PH4

Pwani hybrids are fairly short varieties resistant to lodging and more tolerant to moisture stress. and recommended for altitude range of 0-1250 M. above sea level with 400mm of rainfall. It has an added advantage of good husk cover hence reduced crop loss though bird and weevil attack.It is also suitable under inter-cropping systems.

Recommended growing areas:The lake region and the Coastal strip.

VARIETY
AVERAGE
PERIOD TO MATURITY
(DAYS)
SPECIAL ATTRIBUTES
PH 1
16
75-100
  • Has better husk cover
  • Can be inter cropped with other crops.
  • Tolerant to drought
PH 4
16
90-120
  • Tolerant to most leaf and ear diseases
  • Excellent husk cover
  • Tolerant to lodging

5. Dryland Agro-Ecozone: Katumani Composite B

This is a fast growing open pollinated variety, which is fairly short and produces short cobs. It is a drought escaping variety flowering within 60-65 days and maturing within 90-120 days.
The variety performs well within altitudinal range of 1000-500M above sea level and is a variety for marginal rainfall areas. The variety requires 250-500mm of rain, and has performed extremely well in arid marginal areas in many parts of Africa particularly in Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Tanzania and Namibia.

Recommended growing areas:
Arid and Semi-arid areas of Makuenui, Machokos, Kangundo, Siaya, Kibos, Busia ,Kibwezi,Kitui, Karachuonyo, Nyando, Kisumu Bondo and some parts of Butere.
DH 04 can also perform well in Early to medium transitional zones and lowland areas of Kirinyaga, West Pokot, Bungoma, Homa Bay, Kerio Valley, Kagio, Mwea, Makueni, Kitui, Marakwet, Baringo and Koibatek.
VARIETY AVERAGE
YIELD/ACRE

(90Kg)

PERIOD OF MATURITY

(DAYS)

SPECIAL ATTRIBUTES
DH 01 16 70-90
  • Long stay Green trait
  • Drought tolerant
  •  Good level of tolerant  to leaf blight,common rust and ear rot
DH 02 18 70-100
  • Earlier than dh 04
  • Tolerant to Maize streak virus
  • Tolerant to water stress
  • Has a long stay green trait
DH 03 22 80-120
  • A good level of tolerant  to blight and MSV
  • Good husk cover
  •  Has better stand ability
  • Good moisture stress tolerance
DH 04 24 80-120
  • Short
  • Drought tolerant
  • Good husk cover and  standability

6. Dryland Agro-Ecozone (DLC1)

This is another open pollinated variety which is recommended for arid and semi-arid regions. This variety flowers earlier than Katumani Composite B by about 4-7 days and is shorter but more prolific. Under unfavorable conditions the variety performs better that Katumani Composite B. The variety is best suited where rainfall duration is short and amounts to less than 350mm. The variety is a good substitute for Katumani where rainfall is erratic.

Source:

Soft Kenya and Kenya Seeds Company