Broadening crop base and improving food security are the basis of an intervention on maize evaluation under the Crop Diversification component of the project.
This activity is planned by NARI’s Highlands Regional Centre, based in Tambul in the Western Highlands Province, as part of a series of crop interventions relevant for the region.
Farm trials will be carried out in farmer fields in the Alkena and Kerepia project sites in the Lower Kagul area of the Tambul Nebilyer district.
The two communities are known to have exposed to climate vulnerabilities of excess precipitation, moisture loss, frost, drought and soil related issues.
The maize intervention intends to:-
• screen local maize varieties,
• generate information,
• introduce and assess cold tolerant varieties from abroad, and
• recommend suitable varieties to the farming communities in the areas.
Under this initiative, 19 cold tolerant maize varieties were imported from the International Centre for Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) based in America and incorporated in the germplasm.
These varieties were planted on station to bulk up seeds for further evaluation work until the detection of a fungal disease. Samples were collected from infected plants of CIMMYT varieties and observed under the microscope, and diagnosed with Southern Corn Leaf Blight (SCLB).
The infected plants were destroyed and trials terminated for an indefinite period, based on the severity of the damage and prospects of spreading to other local maize varieties.