Turkana can produce high-value crops, experts say

Teenage girls harvesting maize at Namakat farm in Turkana County. [Mike Ekutan, Standard]

Turkana County has the potential to produce high-value crops according to experts from a local university.

A report by Egerton University unveiled on Saturday reveals that Turkana region can sustain irrigated and rain-fed agriculture that can support high-value crop production. 

It recommends the production of high-yielding crops including sunflowers, groundnuts, iron beans, and watermelon among others.

The county government and Egerton University in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) conducted a joint two-year piloting programme that found Kangalita, Nanyee, Kotela, Naipa, Nawapeto, Katilu, Juluk, Kapelibok, Nakwamoru, Morulem, Lokubae, Elelea, and Nadoto irrigation schemes potential with suitable soils. 

Turkana Director for Agriculture Victor Lochee, speaking at Lokichoggio appreciated Egerton University and FAO for facilitating the research and assured of the county government's readiness to implement the findings.

Loche asked for more support towards the realisation of the county's agenda on food security. 

He said a multi-sectoral approach was needed from the county government and the private sector in mobilising adequate resources that can be used to uproot the Prosopis Juliflora, an invasive weed encroaching irrigation schemes.

Egerton's University team lead Prof Paul Kimurto lauded the County government and FAO for giving them space to carry out research, piloting, and cost-benefit analysis. 

Elizabeth Kamau from FAO called for the involvement of youth and women in the lucrative business of groundnut production and underscored the need to upscale crop production in Turkana.