Unlocking the potential for yellow maize production and utilization in Homa-bay County, Kenya

Main Article Content

JOYCE AGUK
Onwong’a Richard
Chemining’wa George
Jumbo M. Bright
George Ooko Abong'

Keywords

Homa-Bay County, Yellow maize, vitamin A, survey

Abstract

Yellow maize is popular in Western Kenya especially in Homa-Bay County. However, it’s faced with myriad of challenges that has greatly limited its production and utilization. This study investigated yellow maize production, post-harvest handling and utilization practices and constraints while exploring opportunities. The study was conducted from September-November 2020 in three wards of Ndhiwa Sub-County, Homa-Bay County by conducting a cross-sectional survey using a structured questionnaire administered to 385 farmers. Results showed that yellow maize production was an important food security crop and source of livelihood for farmers. Yellow maize was continuously cultivated as a sole crop or intercropped with legumes in less than 1ha land sizes using locally sourced seed with low levels of farm inputs resulting in low yields of less than 1 t/ha. Yellow maize was preferred due to its early maturity (3 months), taste, tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses. The main constraints included total lack of good quality seed, low soil fertility (71%), striga weed infestation (60%), low marketability (46%), pest/diseases prone (34%) and adverse weather (33%). About 68% sun dried their maize, with the dried grains stored in polypropylene bags (87%) kept mainly on raised platforms in their houses (90%) for approximately 3 months/year. Most of the respondents (95%) preferred to consume yellow maize compared to white maize mainly in form of ugali (stiff porridge) (97%) consumed twice daily (77%). The yellow maize potential is under-exploited and enhancing its productivity through research, improved seed system, soil amendments and awareness creation could lead to production increase and be among the pathways that can be used to develop the region and contribute to food and nutrition security in the country.

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