Geographical Distribution in Africa
Geographical Distribution of Maize in Africa. Updated on 1st April 2019. Source FAOSTAT
General Information and Agronomic Aspects
Maize is the most important cereal crop in sub-Saharan Africa. It is a staple food for an estimated 50% of the population. It is an important source of carbohydrate, protein, iron, vitamin B, and minerals. Africans consume maize in a wide variety of ways (maize meal, porridges, pastes and beer). Green maize, fresh on the cob, is eaten baked, roasted or boiled. Every part of the maize plant has economic value: the grain, leaves, stalk, tassel, and cob can all be used to produce a large variety of food and non-food products. In sub-Saharan Africa maize is mostly grown by small-scale farmers, generally for subsistence as part of mixed agricultural systems. The systems often lack inputs such as fertiliser, improved seed, irrigation, and labour. According to FAO data, Africa produced 7.4% of the 1, 135 million tonnes produced worldwide in 40 million hectares in 2017 (FAOSTAT, 2017).
Maize is also a very important feed for livestock. It is processed in industries to produce oil and starch. In Kenya, maize is produced in both small and large farms. Most of the maize crop is however produced on small scale farms. Large scale maize production goes on in Trans Nzoia, Nakuru and Uasin Gishu counties.
Table 1: Nutritive Value Per 100g of Edible Portion
|Raw or Cooked Maize||Maize Flour||Yellow Maize Cooked||Maize Vegetable Oil|
|Food Energy (Calories/%daily value)||364/18%||108/5%||884/44%|
|Vitamin A (I.U)||-||2.0 IU/0%||0.0 IU/0%|
|Vitamin C (I.U)||-||6.2/10%||0.0/0%|
|Vitamin B6 (I.U)||0.5/23%||0.1/3%||0.0/0%|
|Vitamin B12 (I.U)||-||0.0/0%||0.0/0%|
*Percent Daily Values (DV) are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower, depending on your calorie needs.
Climate Conditions, Soil and Water Management
Maize is a versatile crop, growing across a range of agro-ecological zones. With its large number of varieties differing in period to maturity, maize has a wide range of tolerance to temperature conditions. It is essentially a crop of warm regions where moisture is adequate. The crop requires an average daily temperature of at least 20℃ for adequate growth and development. Optimum temperature for good yields is around 30℃. The time of flowering is influenced by photoperiod and temperature. Maize is considered to be a quantitative short-day plant (short days can induce premature flowering). It is grown mainly from 50°N to 40°S and from sea level up to about 3000m altitude at the equator. At higher latitudes, up to 58°N, it can be grown for silage.
Maize is especially sensitive to moisture stress around the time of tasselling and cob formation. It also needs optimum moisture conditions at the time of planting. In the tropics it does best with 600 - 900mm of rain during the growing season. Maize can be grown on many soil types, but performs best on well-drained, well-aerated, deep soils containing adequate organic matter and well supplied with available nutrients. The high yield of maize is a heavy drain on soil nutrients. Maize is often used as a pioneer crop, because of the high physical and chemical demands it makes to the soil. Maize can be grown on soils with a pH from 5 - 8, but 5.5 - 7 is optimal. It belongs to the group of crops that is considered to be sensitive to salinity. Since a young crop leaves much of the ground uncovered, soil erosion and water losses can be severe and attention should be paid to adequate soil and water conservation measures.
There are few pure varieties of maize at present because farmers tend to grow the more productive hybrids and composites. The Kenya Flat Complex is one of the low yielding varieties but has good sheathing which prevents damage by weevil when stored with husks on.
Several hybrids and composites are produces in various research stations like the National research Staation – Kitale, Embu Research Station, Katumani Research Station Machakos and Coast Agricultural Research Station – Mtwapa.
Hybrids are bred by crossing inbreed lines or varieties under conditions of controlled pollution. Composites on the other hand are bred growing a number of varieties together under uncontrolled pollination, there is free inter pollination.
These hybrids and composites are produced for specific altitudes in the country. Some of these are Kitale hybrids for example 614, 622, 625, 626. 627, and 632. They are generally grown in medium to high altitude zones. Embu hybrids include 511 and 513, they grow best in medium altitude zones. Katumani composites have been developed for lower altitude zones. Coast composites, Pwani hybrid 1 and pwani hybrid 4 have been developed at the Coast Agricultural Research Station – Mtwapa for cost province. Others include double cob varieties for example DH01 and DH02.
The choice of appropriate maize varieties for a given location is very important because every variety has extensively been tested and recommended based on climatic conditions, soil type, yield potential, tolerance/resistance to pest and diseases or maturity period among others.
Types of Varieties
Local Seeds: Low to medium yields, usually well sheathed and so more resistant to weevil attack in storage, possibly more palatable to local tastes. Example: Kikuyu maize. Exotic varieties of maize can be collected to add genetic diversity when selectively breeding new domestic strains
Seed Selection and Treatment
Maize variety selection depends on:
Maize is primarily grown for grains, silage and stock feed. Ensure the variety you grow is suited to the end use market you are aiming for.
Plan to sow seeds of chosen variety in the recommended planting windows outlined in Table 2, ensuring maturity, expected rainfall and expected harvest time (days to harvest) . It is also important to ensure harvest will not be far into the dry season as prolonged drought will encourage the onset of aflatoxin in maize.
Select varieties that have well developed roots, strong stalks, and are resistant to root and stalk rot. These features help prevent the plant from falling over/logging, which can lower the yield and quality of the grain.
iv) Insect and disease tolerance/resistance
Always select a maize variety that is known to have tolerance/resistance to a disease or insect pest common in your area where is to be grown so as to attain maximise yield potential.
Note: If you receive or acquire a new maize variety, then test it on small plots before scaling up the production to big plots. Observe and compare the performance of the new variety with the other varieties at every stage of growth under similar management conditions of planting time, weeding and soil fertility management. This will help you to choose the best performing variety under local prevailing conditions.
Table 2: Maize Growing Zones in Kenya and Recommended Varieties
|Variety||KALRO Maize variety||Year Released/Center/Scientist||Attributes||Uses||Where Grown||Commercialization By Who|
|H511||1967 Kenya Seed Co/KARI||Optimal production altitude range (Masl) 1000-1500 m Maturity: 4-5 months Grain yield (t ha-1 ) 4-7 Novelty: Medium maturity||Used to make maize flour, mixed with beans to make githeri or with cow peas for muthokoi, can be eaten as roasted or boiled maize whole on cob, livestock feed, corn oil||Western Kenya, Lake region, South Rift, Meru and Central||Kenya Seed Co/KARI|
|H622||1967 Kenya Seed Co/KARI||Optimal production altitude range (Masl) 1200-1700 m Maturity: 5-7 months Grain yield (t ha-1 ) 6-8 Novelty: Large kernels Dent||Used to make maize flour, mixed with beans to make githeri or with cow peas for muthokoi, can be eaten as roasted or boiled maize whole on cob, livestock feed, corn oil||Western Kenya, Lake region, South Rift, Meru and Central||Kenya Seed Co/KARI|
|H632||1967 Kenya Seed Co/KARI||Optimal production altitude range (Masl) 1200-1700 m Maturity: 5-7 months Grain yield (t ha-1 ) 6-8 Novelty: Large kernels Dent||Used to make maize flour, mixed with beans to make githeri or with cow peas for muthokoi, can be eaten as roasted or boiled maize whole on cob, livestock feed, corn oil||Western Kenya, Lake region, South Rift, Meru and Central||Kenya Seed Co/KARI|
Source: KALRO-KCEP Technology Validation Report, 2016
Table 3: Maize Varieties in Kenya, their Ezo-Zones, Time it Takes to Mature and Their Yield Potential
|Eco-zone and main areas where found.||Recommended varieties||Maturity (months)||Yield potential (bags/ acre)|
Highland zones with high rainfall; Altitude:15002100m above sea level;
Areas: Trans Nzoia, Uasin
Gishu, Nakuru, Kericho,
Nandi, Bungoma, Laikipia, Kisii, Narok and Tea zones of Central and Eastern provinces.
Highland zones, high rainfall; Altitudes: 1000-1700m above sea level; Areas:
Baringo, Siaya, Kisumu,
Busia, Bungoma, Kakamega,
Nakuru, South, Nyanza, Taita Taveta
Coffee zone medium long growing season; Altitude: 1000-1800m above sea leave; Areas: Coffee zones of Central and Eastern provinces, Kisii, Narok, Nakuru, Siaya, Kisumu,
West Pokot, Keiyo,
Dryland areas. Marginal areas with low rainfall.(400mm-800mm); Altitude:
1000-1800 above sea level;
Areas: Kitui, Machakos, West
Pokot, Makueni, Kajiado,
Isiolo, Lower Meru and
Embu, Siaya, Kisumu
KCB, KDV 1, KDV 4 and KDV 6,
|AItitude: 800 - 1200 m above sea level, Drier areas same as for Kitui, Machakos, Makueni drier areas.||DLC||3-4||11|
|Lowland zones - Hot humid; Altitude: 0-1200m above sea level||
Source: KALRO-KCEP Technology Validation Report, 2016
Table 4: Recommended Maize Varieties in the Western Kenya and Rift Valley Regions
|Variety||Source||Agro - Ecological Zone where grown||Yield potential (90 kg bag/acre)|
|H 6218||Kenya Seed Company||Highlands||56|
|H 6213||Kenya Seed Company||Highlands||52|
|H 6210||Kenya Seed Company||Highlands||50|
|H614D||Kenya Seed Company||Highlands||33|
|H629||Kenya Seed Company||Highlands||35|
|H624||Kenya Seed Company||Highlands||35|
|H 517||Kenya Seed Company||Highlands||20|
|P 30G19||Pioneer Seed Company||Medium||30|
|SIMBA 61||Seedco Company||Medium||30|
|WH505||Western Seed Company||Medium||30|
Source: KALRO-KCEP Technology Validation Report, 2016
Highland Maize Varieties: These varieties are bred and recommended for medium to high altitudes (1500-2400 m) where day temperatures seldom exceed 28°C during growing season and where the night temperatures drop to as low as 80°C. Rainfall requirement ranges from 800-1500 mm. Where similar conditions prevail in the highlands of Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia these varieties are recommended. Examples in this group include "H 6210", "H 6212", "H 6213", "H 629" and "KH 600-15A"
Medium Altitude Agro-Ecozone: Altitude range is between 1000 and 1800 m. Some of the varieties in this category include "H513", "H 515" and "H 516". These varieties are commonly grown in coffee growing belts maturing in 4-5 months. The favourable rainfall is between 750-1000 mm
Transitional Zone: The altitude in this zone falls between 1000 and 1500 m where the temperature ranges from 12 to 30°C and has rainfall similar to that of high altitudes. "Hybrid 624" is a typical example in this category.
Lowland Agro-Ecozone: Pwani hybrids ("PH 1" and "PH 4") and "Coast Composite" are fairly short varieties resistant to lodging and more tolerant to moisture stress and recommended for altitude range of 0-1250 m. above sea level with 400 mm of rainfall. They have an added advantage of good husk cover hence reduced crop loss though bird, weevil attack and ear rots. They are also suitable under inter-cropping systems.
Dryland Agro-Ecozone: Examples in this category include "Katumani Composite B" and "DLC 1". Katumani "Composite B" is a fast growing open pollinated variety, which is fairly short and produces short cobs. It is a drought escaping variety flowering within 60-65 days and maturing within 90-120 days. The variety performs well within altitudinal range of 1000-500 m above sea level and is a variety for marginal rainfall areas. The variety requires 250-500 mm of rain, and has performed extremely well in arid marginal areas in many parts of Africa particularly in Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Tanzania and Namibia
Some examples of maize varieties in Tanzania
- "Kilima, "UCA"(OPV): suitable for medium to slightly high altitude (900-1700 m); maturity of 110-130 days; yield potential of 45-65 bags of 90 kg / ha
- "Staha": suitable for low to medium altitude (1-900 m); maturity of 110-130 days; tolerant to drought and also humid conditions
- "TMV-1" (OPV) : suitable for low to medium altitude (1-900 m); maturity of 110-120 days"Katumani,
- "Kito": suitable for low to medium altitude (1-750 m); maturity of 90 days; yield potential of 22-30 bags of 90 kg / ha; drought tolerant
- "Situka"(OPV): suitable for medium altitude (500-1600 m); maturity of 110-120 days; yield potential of 45-65 bags of 90 kg / ha; tolerant to low nitrogen; resistant to cob rots, grey leaf spot and maize streak virus
Some examples of maize varieties in Uganda
- "Longe 4 (OPV)": suitable for low land to mid altitude areas; maturity of 100-115 days; yield potential of 40-55 bags of 90 kg / ha; tolerant to maize streak virus, rust and grey leaf spot.
- "Longe 5 (Nalongo) (QPM Maize)"; suitable for low land to mid altitude areas; maturity of 115 days; potential yield of 40-50 bags of 90 kg / ha; quality protein maize with lysine and tryptophan amino acids; drought tolerant; resistant to maize streak virus, grey leaf spot; moderately resistant to northern leaf blight.
- "Longe 8 H": suitable for mid-altitude; maturity of 120-125 days; potential yield of 88--10 bags of 90 kg / ha; excellent husk cover; tolerant to cob rots, drought and poor soil; resistant to maize streak virus, northern leaf blight and grey leaf spot; a very popular hybrid in Uganda.
Seed Selection, Planting and Field Operations
a). Seed Selection;
Kenya seed company contracts specific farmers to grow maize for seed. The maize is then harvested and treated using Thiram-dindane to prevent pest attack and sold to farmers as seed. Farmers are advised to buy fresh seed for planting every season. This is because of the problem of reduced hybrid vigour in the first generation.
b). Land preparation;
Land on which maize is to be grown should be prepared early to allow stubble enough time to rot. Ploughing is done using disc or mould board ploughs. Harrowing is done where the seedbed is rough, although a fine seedbed is not necessary for maize. Maize does well when grown in rotation with other crops such as beans, tobacco, cotton, groundnuts and Irish potatoes. Maize takes a lot of fertility out of the soil. Continuous cropping of maize should be avoided unless the soil is very fertile or where a lot of fertilizers are applied.
c). Planting Planting Time
Planting should be done quite early in the rains so that the crop can make maximum use of available moisture. Dry planting should be very crucial as delayed planting always reduces yields. Early planting also reduces attack by stalk borers.
Planting should be done within the first two weeks of the onset of rains. It is recommended that there should be at least 30 cm of wet soil throughout the soil profile before sowing. While the hole is still moist, place two to three seeds in an evenly-spaced line in each hole, with one pip at each side and one in the on the other side. Cover the seeds using the soil heaped next to the hole to leave a level surface. Make sure no stones or heavy soil clods cover the seeds. Leave the mulch cover between the holes intact. Try to complete planting in a day to ensure an even germination and later, an even crop canopy, which will shade out any weed growth.
Spacing and plant population per hectare The recommended spacing and planting density of maize for different areas is as shown in table .
Density (plants per ha).
75x25cm 1 plant/hill (pure stand)
75 x 50cm 2 plants/hill (intercrop)
75 x 30cm 1 plant/hill (pure stand)
75 x 60cm 2 plants/hill (intercrop)
Dry land and coastal
90 x 30cm 1 plant/hill (pure stand)
90x 60cm 2 plants/hill (intercrop)
The appropriate planting depth varies from 2 to 10 cm, depending on the weather conditions and the moisture status of the soil. In the highland and medium areas where the soils are well-drained sandy-loam soils, planting depth of 2 to 3 cm is optimal, as deep seed placement retards germination and emergence of maize seedlings. In dry and coastal low land areas where the soil is dry and/or sandy, maize seed should be planted more deeply (5 to 10 cm). This enables the development of a deep root system to obtain the needed water and nutrients. Deep roots penetrate far into the soil and use moisture and nutrients from the deeper depths of the soil.
d). Weed control
Weeds in maize should be controlled right from the early stages of growth to reduce competition for moisture and nutrients. Two to three weedings should give the crop a chance to grow properly to the point where it can suppress the weeds. Hand weeding is mainly practiced.
Weed control is very important. Maize is very sensitive to weed competition during the first 4-6 weeks after emergence. It should be planted as soon as possible after the preparation of the seedbed. Inter-row cultivation to control weeds and to break up a crusted soil surface may be done until the plants reach a height of about 1 m. In Kenya 2 weedings are necessary for most maize varieties, though a third weeding may be necessary for varieties that need 6 to 8 months. Weeding by hand requires a minimum of 25 man-days/ha.
e). Water management
Irrigation is used in areas of low rainfall and is particularly valuable at the time of tasseling and fertilisation. Irrigation is necessary for production of green maize.
Maize usually responds well to fertilisers, provided other growth factors are adequate. The quantity of manure applied by smallholders is usually very limited. Improved varieties can only reach their high yield potential when supplied with sufficient nutrients. A maize crop of 2 t/ha grains and five t/ha stover removes about 60 kg N, 10 kg P2O5 and 70 kg K2O from the soil. Nitrogen uptake is slow during the first month after planting, but increases to a maximum during ear formation and tasselling. Maize has a high demand for nitrogen, which is often the limiting nutrient. High nitrogen levels should be applied in three doses, the first at planting, the second when the crop is about 50 cm tall, and the third at silking.
Many soils provide substantial amounts of the phosphorus (P2O5) and potassium (K2O) but this is not adequate enough, especially at the seedling stage. Apply P2O5 near the seed for early seedling vigour. K2O is taken up in large quantities but plants' requirement can usually be estimated by soil analysis. K2O deficiency results in leaves with burnt edges and yellow or light green colour and empty cob ends, while P2O5 deficiency results in purple tinged leaves and hollow grains. Nitrogen deficiency shows as yellow or light green stunted plants.Phosphate is not taken up easily by maize and, moreover, some tropical soils are deficient in available phosphate. Zinc deficiency symptoms include shortening of internodes and light streaking of leaves followed by a broad stripe of bleached tissue on each side of the leaf midrib. Occasionally the leaf edges and interior of the stalk at the nodes appear purplish. It is advisable to apply organic manures to improve soil structure and supply nutrients, all before ploughing.
Nitrogen (N) can be applied in organic farming via green manure (legumes fixing N directly from the atmosphere), farmyard manure (FYM) or compost. Phosphorus can be supplied through FYM, compost, and in the form of rock phosphate (available in East Africa as Mijingu rock phosphate). rock phosphate should be applied in the rows or planting holes at planting to promote root formation., Potassium can be supplied through FYM, compost and ashes. However, fertiliser recommendations based on soil analysis provide the very best chance of getting the right amount of fertiliser without over or under fertilising. Ask for assistance from a local agriculturist office.
In rain-fed maize growing areas, plant seeds along with the first rain. This will allow roots to absorb the natural nitrates formed with bacterial action in the soil. Roots are susceptible to poor drainage, which causes stunted and yellowing of leaves. Stagnant water results to loss in N through leaching and denitrification (FADINAP, 2000). For more information on organic plant nutrition click here.
In Africa maize does well when intercropped with beans or other legumes. The intercropped legumes should be sown at the time of first weeding in order not to crowd out the young maize plants. Since maize is a heavy feeder and takes considerable nutrients out of the soil, it can only be grown continuously on the richest soils or when heavily fertilised. Recommended legumes for intercropping in Kenya are beans, pigeon peas, cowpeas, groundnuts and soybeans. Other crops that have been tried with varying success include potatoes, cassava and pumpkin.
Intercropping maize with beans and other
legumes regulates pests (leafhopper, leaf beetles, stalk borer, and fall armyworm) and increases the land utility. Intercropping Canavalia (Canavalia spp.) with maize improves soil productivity. Sow Canavalia seeds 4 weeks after sowing maize. Place 1 seed/per hole in a row between maize rows with 50 cm between holes. Allow Canavalia to grow after harvesting maize until it is time to plant the next crop. Then plough the plant materials into the soil (CIAT, 2000).
Intercropping maize with beans and squash enhances parasitism of caterpillars. This practice increases food sources for beneficial insects whereby increasing abundance of natural enemies. The intercropping system of maize-beans-squash is a low input and high yield strategy in the tropics. Maize yield is increased by as much as 50% over monoculture yield. Although the yields for beans and squash are reduced, the overall yield for the 3 combined crops is greater than when grown separately in monocultures (Agroecology Research Group, 1996).
Push-pull Desmodium (Desmodium uncinatum) and molasses grass (Melinis minutifolia) when planted in between maize rows keep the stem borer moths away. These plants produce chemicals that repel stem borer moths. In addition desmodium supresses the parasitic witchweed Striga hermonthica. Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum) and Sudan grass (Sorghum vulgare sudanese) are good trap crops for stem borers. Napier grass has its own defence mechanism against crop borers by producing a gum-like-substance inside its stem, this prevents larva from feeding and causing damage to the plant. Both grasses attract stemborer predators such as ants, earwigs, and spiders. Sudan grass also increases the efficiency of natural enemies, in particular parasitic wasps, when planted as border crops (Herren; Pickett, 2000; ICIPE, 2006). For more information on push-pull click here
h). Alternative uses of maize in mixed cropping
- Shading of vegetable crops by planting single rows between vegetables in areas of high intensity of sunshine can increase yields of intercropped vegetables.
- Use as support for runner beans for export or local consumption.
Harvesting and Post Harvest Management
Maize can be harvested by hand or by special maize combine harvesters. The stage of maturity can be recognised by yellowing of the leaves, yellow dry papery husks, and hard grains with a glossy surface. Maize is often left in the field until the moisture content of the grain has fallen to 15-20%, though this can lead to attack by grain borers in the covered cobs. In hand harvesting the cobs should be broken off with as little attached stalk as possible. They may be harvested with the husks still attached. These may be turned back and the cobs tied together and hung up to dry.
The world average yield in 2014 was 5,616 kg per hectare. Average yield in the USA was 10,732 kg per hectare, while in Africa it was 2,105 kg per hectare. Average yields in Kenya in 2014 was 18 bags/ha (1,660 kg/ha) (FAOSTAT, 2014).
Post Harvest Handling
The major problems in most maize-producing areas are reducing the moisture content of the grain to below 13%, protection from insects and rodents, and proper storage after harvest. High moisture content with high temperatures can cause considerable damage such as development of aflatoxin producing fungi, making the product unsuitable for human consumption.Maize for home consumption is either sun-dried on the cob for several days by hanging up tied husks, or put in a well-ventilated store or crib. Easy test for moisture content: take a few grains and try to crush them with your teeth - below 13% moisture level the grains are extremely hard and almost impossible to crush this way. Shelling (the removal of grains from the cob) is usually carried out by hand, though several hand and pedal-powered mechanical shellers are now available. The average recovery is about 75%. The shelled grain is dried again for a few days and then stored in bags, tins or baskets.
The optimum moisture content for storage is 12-13%. In Indonesia seed for the next crop is generally selected from the last harvest. The selected cobs are stored at home in the husk above the fireplace to prevent losses by insects. Crop residues are removed from the field and then used as fodder, fuel, etc.
Information on Pests
Infestation and damage by pests have been ranked as the third most important constraint upon maize production in semi-arid eastern Kenya after moisture stress and poor soil fertility (Songa et al., 2002).
Stemborers and striga weed account for losses in maize in the eastern and southern Africa region of 15-40% and 20-100%, respectively. When they occur together, farmers can lose their entire crop (ICIPE, 2006). Earworms and armyworms are other major pests.
The principal pests of stored maize are Angoumois grain moth (Sitotroga cerealella), the larger grain borer (Prostephanus truncatus), maize weevils and rodents. More Information on Storage pests