Drought Resistant and Fast Maturing Crops on Display at Rarieda Field Day

Ralingo Farm, Rarieda - Finger millet, white sourghum, groundnuts, cassava, Soya bean, cotton, Nerica rice and the orange fleshed sweet potato were the crops on display and in focus during the Rarieda field day held recently.

This is because the crops are drought tolerant, fast maturing and able to withstand pests and diseases. They are also able to promote the nutrition and wellbeing of the lives of communities. Previously, they were known as orphan crops but not anymore. For example, white sorghum flour is highly nutritious and drought tolerant and has a ready market for the brewery industry; Cassava and finger millet are also highly nutritious; finger millet is particularly rich in iron which is good for women and girls; it is also good for making porridge and what is popularly known as brown ugali.

It is the same case with groundnuts which have the potential to earn farmers a good income if they identify their markets and produce to sell to those markets. Recently KEPHIS started the promotion of the Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato, a fast maturing variety rich in beta carotene and Vitamin A. KEPHIS produces the vines at the Plant Quarantine and Biosecurity Station at Muguga for onward multiplication by farmers.

Currently, the government, through KEPHIS is undertaking National Performance Trials (NPTs) for bt Cotton at Kisumu. Once the trials are done and successful, the cotton can be multiplied and availed to farmers. The cotton varieties are hybrid which means higher yields and less incidences of the bollworm which is a menace to cotton farming. One of the other key crops demonstrated was Nerica rice; it is a rain fed variety that does not require flooding water as other rice varieties, hence making it a viable alternative for cultivation. Indeed some Nerica varieties require less water and take a short time (about 105 days) to mature.

The seed companies that collaborated with KEPHIS included Kenya Seed Company, Western Seed, AgriSeedCo, Pannar Seed, Pioneer Seed, Olerai, East African Seed, Monsanto, Dryland Seed, KALRO Kakamega and Kibos and AfriAsia.


Finger millet was on display during the field day

Sorghum was on display during the field day

Cassava was on display during the field day

Orange fleshed sweet potato was on display during the field day

CAS Agriculture and Irrigation Dr Andrew Tuimur, (centre) and Hon. Raphael tuju discuss drought tolerant maize during the Rarieda Field Day. Looking on is KEPHIS MD Dr Esther Kimani(partially hidden, right)

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