The Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (Kari) has developed 50 new grain seed varieties that can resist diseases, take less time to mature and withstand rainfall of less than 500mm in a season.
The seed varieties will be distributed to local farmers, especially in the non-grain farming areas, so that they can increase the acreage of drought-resistant upland rice, sorghum and maize varieties. Kari researchers explain that unlike the hybrid varieties in the market that cannot be replanted, the new seeds can on average be sown for five seasons, thrive on open pollination and yield around 35 bags per acre.
East African Breweries Ltd has guaranteed farmers a ready market for at least 50,000t of sorghum annually. The brewer expects its demand for sorghum to double next year as it startsto phase out the use of barley as the main raw ingredient in its brewing activities.
Food security remains elusive with production of maize, a staple food, below capacity. According to data from Tegemeo Institute, maize production was about 23m bags in 2009/2010 crop year against a demand of 37m bags. The introduction of drought-resistant varieties and the revival of stalled irrigation projects is expected to boost maize production in the dry regions of eastern and northern Kenya, which experience erratic rainfall.
– Business Daily