Growing cassava to curb food shortages

Business Daily Kenya:  A national consortium has been formed to encourage farmers to expand the hectarage under cassava and bring the “trad...

Business Daily Kenya: 

Cassava farming. Photo/File.jpg

A national consortium has been formed to encourage farmers to expand the hectarage under cassava and bring the “traditional food” back to dinner tables.

Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) which is spearheading activities of the alliance dubbed National Cassava Value Chain Consortium, expects the move to help cushion the country against recurrent food crises.

The Thika-based State agency has received a boost of Sh130 million from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for the purpose. Industry players, service providers and development agencies are members of the coalition.

According to head of roots and tuber crops in the Ministry of Agriculture, Joshua Oriale, cassava is one of the forgotten indigenous crops and fruits expected to make a come-back once the consortium gets down to work.

He says cassava is key in terms of food security and is also in high demand among beer makers because of its starch ingredient while value addition will ensure farmers put food on the table and make money by selling the products.

“Cassava has a high production per hectare and does well in drought conditions. It can help the country ease pressure on maize,” Oriale told scientists in Thika. Food expert, Oliver Wasilwa regretted the demise of traditional crops because of changing lifestyles and preference for foreign foods. “Researchers have failed. Policies are missing.

Awareness is not there,. Vision 2030 does not include promotion of the crops. We hate them,” said added. Dr Wasilwa concurred with biotechnology expert, Margaret Karembu on the need to push for adoption of faster maturing, drought and pest resistant cassava varieties as a solution to the food crisis.

Two other major crops to be promoted by researchers and other stakeholders include the grain amaranth due to its nutritional properties and has a growing international market in health food industry.

Bambara groundnut is also being given serious attention by the researchers along side vegetables such as spider shade, guavas and yams, sweet potatoes, cassava, and herbs, act as a food security option and income for farmers.

Earlier Prof. George Chemining’wa of the Nairobi University College of Agriculture identified bambara groundnut as a crop of high value, the third most important legume crop in semi-arid areas in Africa and Kenya, after peanut and cowpea.

The post Growing cassava to curb food shortages appeared first on Mediamax Network Limited.

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