Kenyans in the Arid and Semi-Arid Land (ASAL) regions need to start focusing on legumes as a source of food as the country grapples with food insecurity.
These sentiments were made by Jacqueline Hughes, Director General, International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) at the organisation's 50th-anniversary breakfast celebration in Nairobi.
Catherine Mbili a farmer from Kathonzweni Constituency in Makueni County said she has adopted value addition for legumes that do well in the area.
"Through ICRISAT, now I know how to make sorghum cakes, millet mandazis, cowpea cookies, peanut butter. It is a better way of helping me survive through the dry season in my region," said Mbili.
Some of the issues that were tackled at the event include challenges and opportunities facing the semi-arid tropics of Kenya and Sub-Saharan Africa, with a series of discussions on partnerships and funding for unstainable agriculture.
Lina Judy, a farmer in Kitui county said she has trained young farmers on how to create value from chickpeas, millet and sorghum.
"We are training young people on how to use the crops that are available around them, to make food for themselves. We have chickpea flakes, millet queen cakes, sorghum wine," said Judy.
Hughes noted that while the Institute's 50th anniversary was an opportunity to reflect on the organisation's illustrious history, it was also a defining moment to introduce new and innovative approaches to address the challenges facing dryland agro-food systems in Kenya.
"While the world grapples with evolving climate change, environmental degradation and geo-political shifts there tragically remains one constant for dryland farming communities, and that is food insecurity and hunger," said Dr Hughes.
One of the partners Arthanas Matheka, CEO Green Forest Foods limited spoke about the challenge of aflatoxin in peanuts production.
Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO) Deputy director general Felister Makini expressed their continued collaboration in making sure that agriculture in Kenya continues to contribute to the Gross Domestic Product.
"We will work together with ICRISAT to influence good public policy with a focus on gender and social inclusion especially relevant to developing a more equitable and sustainable agricultural sector," said Makini.
According to Hughes, their strength has been built upon the diversity of the public and private sector partnerships and their inspiration, remains the 2.1 billion people around the world who call the drylands home.
"With our deep expertise in dryland farming and recent advances in research, ICRISAT will continue to serve as global research and thought leader to reduce poverty, hunger, malnutrition, environmental degradation in the semi-arid tropics while making farming profitable."