Cocoa introduced in Kenya as government supplies various seedlings to farmers

Seedlings in trays. Photo by Kilimo News

The government will supply 781,800 seedlings to farmers in 17 counties. The seedlings include tomato, underutilized fruits and for the first time, cocoa is being introduced into the country.

While flagging of the seedlings at KALRO-Dairy Research Institute Naivasha, Agriculture CS Peter Munya said the seedlings will be an important input in ensuring food and nutrition security in the country.

Cocoa is a new entry in Kenya’s industrial crops sub-sector. Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research (KALRO) in partnership with Bear Machines of West Africa which is a private company will introduce the crop to farmers. To support commercialization of cocoa, KALRO will supply 40,000 cocoa seedlings to Kilifi, Kwale, Taita Taveta, Lamu, Busia, Bungoma, Vihiga, Kakamega, Kisumu, Siaya, Homabay and Migori counties in 2020. This is expected to help

farmers to diversify their farming enterprises.

The government is also taking a keen interest in tomato. “Tomato is ranked among the high value horticultural crops in Kenya accounting for 38.1% of the total value of exotic vegetables. However, farmers face various challenges including low yielding cultivars, and lack of certified tomato seedlings. Tomato is rich in minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants that are important to a well-balanced diet. It is important in meeting Kenya’s food and nutritional security, supplying raw materials for processing industries, generation of income, foreign exchange earnings and creation of employment opportunities. Under the Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Project (KCSAP), KALRO will supply 514,000 tomato seedlings to farmers in Kajiado, Siaya, Garissa, Elgeyo Marakwet and Mandera Counties,” said Munya.

Under the Underutilized Fruit Programme funded by USAID Feed the Future Project, KALRO will distribute 227,800 assorted fruits. The CS says this is to ensure that Kenyans continue to eat healthy foods that boost immunity, are environmentally resilient and enrich the landscapes and diversity of food consumed by communities. These are guava, jackfruit, pomegranate, custard apple, sour sop, loquats, gooseberry, blackberry, raspberry, tree tomato, tamarind, and java plum. The fruits will be distributed to farmers in 14 counties namely Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Machakos, Makueni, Busia, Bungoma, Kakamega, Vihiga, Homabay, Migori, Kisumu, Kisii, Uasin Gishu and Nandi.

The CS added that these communities have been capacity built to diversify, add value to products and have been linked to the industry under the “eat KALRO brand”.

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