The Government will supply close to 2m seedlings of underutilized fruits to farmers across the Country to enhance food and nutritional security.
Agriculture CS Peter Munya says 781,800 seedlings will be supplied to farmers in 17 counties with plans to increase the numbers in the coming months.
Speaking in Naivasha where he flagged off vehicles ferrying the seeds from KARLO farm, Munya said the seedlings include tomato, underutilized fruits and cocoa seedlings.
“The underutilized fruits comprise of guava, jackfruit, pomegranate, custard apple, loquat, gooseberry, blackberry, raspberry, tree tomato, tamarind and java plum,” he said.
He said tomato is ranked among the high value horticultural crops in the Country accounting for 38.1 percent of the total value of exotic vegetables.
The CS admitted that farmers are facing various challenges including low yielding cultivars and lack of certified tomato seedlings.
He said that under the Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Project (KCSAP), KALRO would supply another 514,000 tomato seedlings to farmers in Kajiado, Siaya, Garissa, Elgeyo Marakwet and Mandera Counties
During the event, the CS announced that KARLO in partnership with Bear Machines from West Africa had introduced Cocoa plant to farmers.
“KALRO will supply 40,000 cocoa seedlings to Kilifi, Kwale, Taita Taveta, Lamu, Busia, Bungoma, Vihiga, Kakamega, Kisumu, Siaya, Homabay and Migori counties,” he said.
Munya added that under the Underutilized Fruit Programme funded by USAID, KALRO would further distribute 227,800 assorted fruits seedlings to 14 counties.
During the event, Munya launched the Kenya Agricultural Observation Platform (KAOP) application the first of its kind in the region, which is meant to monitor rain patterns.
The CS noted that the new App had the capacity to accurately provide information on rainfall in terms of probable amount and time.
He added that the new technology would also provide data on previous rainy days and predict long term trends as well as long term and current rainfall location plus pests and disease forecasts.
“Accurate weather forecast is a necessary prerequisite for farm planning and production for both producers and consumers,” he said.
On his part, the PS for Research in the Ministry Hamadi Boga noted that there is need to support KARLO in its research efforts as this would lead to an increase in food production.
“Research is the basis of good agriculture and we are impressed by the ongoing innovation by KARLO which includes developing and preserving new genetics,” he said.