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Kenyans urged to develop taste for other local foods

BUSINESS
By Graham Kajilwa | August 5th 2021

Agricultural Development Corporation Managing Director Mohammed Bulle. [David Njaaga, Standard]

Kenya’s food insufficiency has been blamed on dependency on maize and a few other staples.

Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) Managing Director Mohammed Bulle said failure to diversify from maize, potatoes and rice as well as overdependence on rain-fed agriculture to grow these foods has made the country food insecure.

“Our neighbours in Uganda have bananas as their staple food, but here we only think of ripe bananas,” he said during a press briefing in his office yesterday.

Mr Bulle said rice has joined the list of staple foods, which is worrying as the country does not grow enough of the grain and has to rely on imports to bridge the supply gap. He said Trans Nzoia has for the longest time carried the burden of feeding Kenyans as the country’s breadbasket while depending on the now unreliable rains.

“We have not expanded to other parts of the country by doing irrigation but we are still weather dependent. The only way we can beat weather is through technology and irrigation,” said Bulle. He also urged farmers to embrace drought-resistant crops, such as sorghum.

“It is easier to produce, unlike maize. Wheat production can also be enhanced so that people can eat more bread,” said Bulle. “Starch is still starch at the end of the day,” he added.

Farmers, he said, can also be incentivised to upscale livestock keeping, noting that pastoralists in northern Kenya entirely depend on their animals for survival.

“There are communities in this country who do not eat maize or beans but depend on meat and milk, and when you look at them, they are slender and healthier,” said the ADC boss.

While genetically modified foods (GMOs) have been fronted as a solution to food security, it may take some time before it is fully accepted.

“There are myths that should be overcome with time,” said Bulle, referring to the arguments that GMOs tamper with one’s DNA.

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