Underdeveloped seed systems and poor accessibility to seeds has been blamed for the low adoption of improved varieties released over the years in eastern Africa. To counter this, close to 3,500 Kenyan farmers were provided seeds of improved varieties of sorghum, finger millet, pearl millet, groundnut and pigeonpea.
To increase production of high quality seed and ensure that farmers, especially women and youth, have access to seed of improved varieties, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Kenya, in partnership with ICRISAT is working in seven counties in the country – Busia, Keiyo Marakwet, Siaya, Kitui, Makueni, Tharaka Nithi and Mbeere. “Our efforts are to empower farmers to engage more profitably in production and the entire value chains of sorghum, millets and groundnut and pigeonpea,” said Mr Patrick Audi, Project Coordinator of the Accelerated Value Chain Development (AVCD) Program.
Since the start of the project in October 2015, farmers in the target counties have been introduced to improved varieties and agronomic practices using lead/model farms as field schools for training farmers. “High quality seed alone cannot improve productivity,” Mr Audi explained.
“To realize the yield potential for high quality seed, it has to be accompanied with better crop management practices such as good seedbed preparation, timely planting, spacing, fertilizer application, weed control, integrated pest and disease management and improved postharvest handling techniques,” he adds. Post-planting monitoring efforts are ongoing to ensure that good agricultural practices are followed by farmers.
The AVCD is a three year project being implemented by International Potato Center (CIP), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and ICRISAT with the objective to enhance resilience, agricultural productivity, food and nutrition security and overall economic welfare of actors along the value chains of livestock, dairy, root crops and drought tolerant crops in Kenya. ICRISAT’s approach is to stimulate utilization of nutrient dense cereals and legumes and support farmers to produce enough to meet the increasing demand.