State to supply over 5 million planting materials to farmers
The government has embarked on the provision of over five million free seeds, seedlings, cuttings, and vines to small-scale farmers to enable them to sustain food production during the Covid-19 crisis.
Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) has announced the provision of the propagation materials to ensure farmers continue with food production amid the spreading effects of the pandemic.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said the provision of the planting materials is critical to supporting farmers to gain more capacity to boost food production in the country following the disruptions by Covid-19.
“Due to disruptions in the food industry, the government and value chain players felt the need to support food
production systems by providing farmers with enough planting materials to guarantee smooth production,” he said.
The provision of the crop propagation materials was necessary as most farmers are financially constrained by the pandemic.
Production of the planting materials, Munya added, is being undertaken by the research agency -Kalro.
Most of the farmers set to benefit are located in the arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) who grow cassava, sorghum, cotton, and cashew nuts and root crops like sweet potato, cassava among others.
Kalro Director General Eliud Kireger said in a phone interview that the materials will also benefit farmers who grow fresh produce
largely, managu, tomato, and fruits such as pawpaw, jackfruit, mango, and guavas.
“We are also targeting growers undertaking animal feed production by supplying them with fodder planting materials such as fodder tree Lucerne seedlings, fodder sweet potato vines and napier grass planting canes,” he added.
“This is geared towards enhancing farmers' production capacity in
addition to ensuring the food value chain is not interrupted despite the increasing economic effects as a result of the Covid-19,” said Dr
Kireger added the program is one component of a larger project under the Ministry of Agriculture funded by the World Bank and other organisations.
“Providing the seedlings and seeds helps farmers to maintain their
production capacity which is under threat from the corona virus,” he added.
So far, Munya confirmed, coffee, tea and avocado have been receiving seedlings produced by various Kalro respective research centres –tea and coffee research institutes.
Recently, the CS in conjunction with Kalro released 25 tonnes of potato basic seeds to 24 screened Common Interest Groups (CIGs) in six counties to produce certified seed for farmers as well as providing planting materials of various commodities.
The counties to benefit include Elgeyo Marakwet, Bomet, Nyandarua, Uasin Gishu, Nyeri and Taita Taveta. The groups will produce the seeds which will be distributed later to farmers.
In the coffee sub-sector, the government is distributing 345,000 free
seedlings to small-scale farmers in coffee-growing counties.
The seedlings have been raised from the Coffee Research Institute
(CRI) at Kericho county (30,000 seedlings), Bungoma (30,000), Trans-Nzoia (45,000) and Meru( 35,000).
Kieyah said the lack of inadequate planting materials has denied the sub-sector an opportunity to reclaim its lost glory both locally and internationally.
Coffee from Kenya is of the “Colombia mild” type and is well known for its intense flavor, full-body, and pleasant aroma with notes of cocoa.
Its premium grades –AA, AB and PB are the most sought-after coffees in the world market.
“The developed seedlings are set to help farmers expand their farms as well as replace old varieties that are vulnerable to the vagaries of the climate change,” said Prof Kieyah.
Provision of adequate is part of the recommendations highlighted by the Kieyah National Coffee Task Force Report 2016 that had been created by President Uhuru Kenyatta to investigate the woes facing the coffee sub-sector.