The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) has moved in to increase production of green gram in the country by 20 per cent to meet the rising demand.
According to the research organisation, the country’s production was 570kg compared to the global average of 730kg per hectare.
Under a programme supported by the World Bank, KALRO has developed innovations and management practices to address the production of the crop.
According to KALRO Director-General Dr Eliud Kireger, the production of green gram faced many challenges in the country.
He identified some of the challenges as climate change hich was characterised by irregular and unpredictable weather patterns.
Other challenges, according to him, included land fragmentation where the crop was grown and limited access to certified seeds.
“Production of green gram is affected by pests, diseases, weed infestation and decreasing soil fertility in areas where production is being undertaken,” he said.
Kireger was however quick to note that KALRO had developed technologies innovations and management practices (TIMPS) to address the challenges.
He was addressing extension officers, staff and farmers from Isiolo County during a 10-day training programme at KALRO farm in Naivasha.
According to him, farmers involved in the production of the crop were getting discouraged due to low access to structured markets with others suffering from huge post-harvest losses.
Kireger noted that the crop was considered to be hardiest among all pulse crops that could tolerate drought to a great extent.
“Green gram is an important crop but currently we have inadequate primary processing technologies and limited knowledge on processing and utilisation,” he said.
Kireger said KALRO is working closely with WB to ensure farmers used technology in farming to increase food production.
Under the Kenya Agricultural Observation Platform (KAOP), the Director-General said they are targeting 13 key main crops in the country.
“Under this programme we train farmers to get involved in contract farming as we connect them with our researchers for improved farming practices,” he said.
On her part, the director of crops system in KALRO Dr Lusike Wasilwa said they had embarked on a six-month plan to train farmers in selected counties on new farming technologies.
“Under this programme we shall be training trainers of trainers who will disseminate this knowledge to farmers and we are also keen to connect farmers with our researchers,” she said.