KEPHIS and Plant Breeders Release Superior Crop Varieties for Food Security and Nutrition

KEPHIS Headquarters, Nairobi - KEPHIS and plant breeders have released 25 new crop varieties which have been recommended by the National Productivity and Competitiveness Centre (NPCC).

In a meeting that was held at KEPHIS headquarters by the National Variety Release Committee, new plant varieties of Irish potato, paddy rice, amaranthus (terere), oats, sunflower, sorghum, maize and French beans were made available for multiplication. These varieties will enable farmers get good yields since they are drought and disease resistant, and are highly nutritious compared to the existing varieties.

The release comes at a time when Kenya has been experiencing drought due to climatic changes and pests like the Fall Army Warm which has triggered poor maize production. Following this, the committee has released MH402 and MH502 (Taji) maize varieties which are tolerant to GLS, Rust, MSV and MLN. These maize varieties also have good milling quality, uniform cob placement and strong stalk  which leads to reduced lodging. MH402 is resistant to TLB, has extra early maturity (80-85 days) to physiological maturity and ear droops when mature. ADV2304W and ADV2308W are both tolerant to major leaf diseases like GLS, Turcicum, blight and MSV as well as have good husk cover and standability. ADV2304W is highly adaptable to low nitrogen soils while ADV2308 is tolerant to drought. X28F421W was also part of the released varieties and is drought tolerant, early maturing, has quality grains and good standability.

The committee also approved the release of organic paddy rice, moving away from conventional rice due to the good attributes revealed by paddy rice. Five varieties have been released among them ATH741A which is aromatic and has good seed yields, ATH732I, which is tolerant to Imidizolonone herbicides and ATH744A which is also aromatic. FHR-K1 and TBD paddy rice varieties have also been released and are both good to excellent seed yields. Two new varieties of amaranthus commonly known as terere were also released. KAT Gold and Terere Smart are both highly digestible, immune boosters and particularly good for malnourished children and those with low immunity; they are highly nutritious with high quality proteins, drought tolerant and have early maturity. They are also dual purpose whereby they can be fed by livestock and their seeds can be used for breakfast in cooking porridge, cakes and Ugali.

“Amaranthus survives cold climatic conditions and they do much better in Nakuru, Machakos, Western, Mutomo, Kiboko and Egerton- Njoro. The seeds are good for porridge, ugali and baking cakes.”
KEPHIS has been advocating for increased potato production to enhance food availability and nutrition. Hence, three Irish potato varieties have been released and are all disease resistant. For instance Farida is resistant to Alternaria, common scab and Late Blight Tuber while Rock and Lady Terra varieties are both resistant to wart disease fysio and G.rostochiensis pathotype. All these varieties are good for consumption and can be used for French fries, crisps and chips.

Two varieties of oats, KS Oat16B and KS Oat16A were part of the released varieties all being white grains, resistant to lodging, with an average height of 110 cm and having good tillering ability. KS Oat16B is suitable for animals since it is highly palatable, sweet and tasty while KS Oat16A has a slightly nutty flavor making it ideal for biscuits and thickening both sauces and soups. KS Oat16A is also moderately resistant to leaf rust.
High yielding cream hybrids, resistant to green bug pests and drought tolerant sorghum varieties have also been released. These varieties are: ADV7031, ADV7450 and ADV7431 and are single cross hybrids as well as highly commercialized in the USA and other European countries. ADV7431 has proved to be excellent stay green and resistant to sugarcane aphids pests. Moreover, one wheat variety with good milling and baking quality, red hard grains, stem rust resistance, average height of 90cm which makes it easy for harvesting and combining has been approved. The wheat variety is spring type with seven tillers per plant hence good tillering ability.
Sunflower-NK NEOMA variety produced using the two line hybrid technology has been released and has proved to have high quality oil content due to the presence of conventional linoleic oil type and is tolerant to IMI herbicides.
In addition two French Bean Varieties namely Kenya Amboseli and Kenya Safari have approved by the NVRC.

Additionally, one cunning bean variety with Kenya Red Kidney being the release name was also approved and showed to be resistant to angular leafspot, anthracnose, rust, common bacterial blight, common root rots, very good water uptake after soaking, fast cooking (34.8 minutes), good yield potential, physical appearance and sensory traits have been released and approved by KEPHIS.
Present during the event were representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, the Council of Governors and breeder organizations among them Kisima Farm, Suera, East Africa Seed, Advanta, Pioneer Overseas Co-operation, Kenya Seed Company, KARLO Katumani, Syngenta E.A, Afritec, Hybrid East Africa Limited and the University of Nairobi.

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