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Maize Yield Losses From Stemborers In Kenya

H. Groote
Published 2002 · Biology

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Maize is the major food crop in Kenya, where 2.3 million tonnes are produced annually to feed an estimated 28.6 million people (79 kg/person p.a.). Population growth in the country is high (2.9 % p.a.), resulting in increased pressure on arable land and, consequently, increased pest pressure on crops. Stemborers are one of the most important pests of maize. Previous research with artificial infestation established clear links between damage factors and yield losses. These results, however, cannot be extrapolated to estimate crop losses in farmers’ fields under natural infestation. Due to lack of field data, farmers’ (often subjective) estimates of losses under natural infestation and the incidence of infestation were used to estimate maize yield losses for each of Kenya’s major agroecological zones. The yield loss was estimated to be 12.9 %, amounting to 0.39 million tonnes of maize, with an estimated value of US$ 76 million. High-potential areas have relatively low crop loss levels (10–12 %), while the low-potential areas have higher losses (15–21 %). Taking into account the higher yield of the former areas (more than 2.5 t/ha), the loss per hectare is remarkably constant, between 315 and 374 kg/ha, except for the dry mid-altitude zones, where losses total approximately 175 kg/ha. The value of these losses is estimated at US$ 61–75/ha and US$ 34/ha, respectively. Such estimates are useful for setting research and extension priorities.
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