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Government targets farmers with underutilized crops

By Antony Gitonga | July 23rd 2018
Millet crop in Kombuini area of Mwea constituency, Kirinyaga County. [Joseph Muchiri/Standard]

The country plans to reintroduce indigenous crops in the region to boost food production.

Up to four million small-scale farmers have been targeted to start producing millet, sorghum, cassava or amaranth for blending with maize.

The plan is meant to wean Kenyans off depending entirely on maize farming for food and income.

According to the deputy director in charge of crops in the Ministry of Agriculture, Zakayo Magara, the five-year programme aims at producing 14 million bags of indigenous crops by 2022.

Magara was speaking at the end of a four-day workshop on flour blending for food nutrition and security held at Dairy Training Institute (DTI) in Naivasha.

“The overall objective of the flour blending initiative is to contribute towards food security, improve nutrition and increase employment opportunities,” he said.

Magara said according to the 2017 Economic Survey, maize production had declined from 42.5 million bags in 2015 to 37.1 million bags in 2016 reflecting a 13 percent drop.

He said over-dependency on maize was not good for the country's nutritional needs.

“Maize is deficient in some essential micro-nutrients that are required for proper growth and development, so it is a high energy and low nutrient meal that leads to micro-nutrient deficiency,” he said.

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