Update [March 2013]: More information about the pests and viruses associated with Maize Lethal Necrosis disease can be found on the Plantwise Knowledge Bank.
In January this year, ProMed-mail reported an undiagnosed disease of maize that had been destroying farmers’ crops in the Rift Valley of Kenya since the previous September. The Ministry of Agriculture in Kenya swiftly took action to investigate the problem, and at the end of May, the Minister of Agriculture Hon. Dr Sally Kosgei announced their conclusions.
Investigation of the disease was a combined effort of many teams, including the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture, KARI, KEPHIS, CABI, the UK Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA), and researchers from the USA. The disease was identified as a complex of Maize chlorotic mottle virus and Sugarcane mosaic virus, which together with a fungus cause this Maize lethal necrosis disease. The Minister gave many recommendations for short-term control of the disease, which can be seen in the video below. Long term solutions were also given such as breeding of maize varieties resistant to the disease, an updated early warning system, and awareness campaigns.
Dr Kosgei announced that the Ministry of Agriculture, in association with CABI, KARI, KEPHIS and other stakeholders, are setting up plant clinics to advise farmers on how to tackle the disease. Find out more about these plant clinics here.