Kephis releases crop varieties to boost government food security efforts
Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) in efforts to boost the agenda on food and nutrition has announced release of 17 varieties of crops.
Three varieties of maize, three varieties of Brachiaria, two varieties of soybean, one variety each of potato, Triticale, French bean, sunflower and garden pea were made available for multiplication by seed merchants and eventually to Kenyan farmers to grow thus enhance food availability.
The National Variety Release Committee, who are responsible for the approval of crop varieties for multiplication, advised that the varieties are high yielding, suitable for various agro ecological zones around the country and tolerant to pests and diseases.
Soy bean, for example, has the special attributes of high protein and oil content.
It has been targeted for the oil industry and livestock feed due to its growing demand. Sunflower was also released and is good for livestock feed production.
The French bean variety released has been developed for the export market.
The maize varieties released are high yielding hybrids and have wide adaptations over regions with good lodging resistance.
Potato is the second most important food crop after maize in Kenya and the variety released has high resistance to Phytophthora, has a long storage period and is suitable for making French fries.
The registration and release of new varieties leads to gazzettment and listing of superior high yielding varieties with better agronomic traits, such as disease resistance and stress tolerance resulting in increased incomes for farmers and enhancing food security.
The overall aim of the release system is to transfer new varieties from research stations to farmers’ fields, while making a reliable assessment of their value for farmers, says biotechnology specialist Josephine Kawira.
After approval of these varieties, breeders and seed companies are expected to ensure seed certification and commercialisation of the varieties to allow farmers to benefit and contribute to food security in the country.
“Plant breeding has the ability to significantly contribute in resolving some of the agricultural challenges such as food security, hunger alleviation and increasing nutritional values which help in mitigating the effects of population growth and climate change,” she says.
Increase in agricultural production and productivity depends, to a large extent, on the development of new and improved crop varieties and efficient system of their delivery at affordable prices to farmers.
The aim of plant breeding is to deliver improved varieties which have superior attributes in terms of yield, diseases and pest tolerance.
Plant breeding has the ability to significantly contribute in resolving some of the challenges ahead such as food security, hunger alleviation and increasing nutritional values which will help in mitigating the effects of population growth and climate change.