IRMA - Achievements

Pest resistance
Scientists from CIMMYT and KARI working together with diverse stakeholders have made ground-breaking achievements through collaborative research in developing maize varieties that can better resist attack by the three major insect pests in Kenya – stem borers, maize weevils, and the larger grain borer (LGB). 

Nine maize varieties (both open pollinated and hybrid) with remarkable resistance to stem borers have been released. They can control three of the four main stem borers. 

IRMA project “firsts”

  • IRMA defined the course of biotechnology activities in Kenya while serving as a testing ground for national biosafety regulations and guidelines. In 2005, Kenya, through the project, received its first Bt maize seed and planted it in first field trials. The project led to the creation of the first state-of-the-art Level 2 biosafety laboratory and greenhouse complex in East Africa. Participants also prepared a complete safety dossier for IRMA products.  
  • To enhance the adoption of the new maize varieties, the project came up with an insect resistance management strategy for smallholders. Through support for staff, and student training at various levels and extension seminars, the project enhanced the skills and knowledge of Kenyan scientists, farmers, officials, and other stakeholders. The project also contributed to nationwide biosafety awareness initiatives.
  • IRMA III led to the identification and commercial release of major insect-resistant maize cultivars.
  • Further, it identified new germplasm sources of resistance to stem borer and post-harvest insect pests among landraces, open-pollinated varieties (OPVs) and CIMMYT lines (CMLs), and developed new insect-resistant germplasm. Kenya released 13 stem borer-resistant (SBR) conventional maize varieties (three OPVs and 10 hybrids) and four storage pest-resistant (SPR) hybrids. Kenya has also nominated several stem borer- and four postharvest- resistant hybrids for national performance trials. Three insect-resistant varieties were commercialized in Kenya by Monsanto, Wakala Seeds, and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute Seed Unit. These are the KH 414-1 SBR and 414-4 SBR hybrids, and the OPV Pamuka. 

Further information

 Read CIMMYT's full blog entry about the 2014 End of Project Conference.