Assistance to the Production of Asian Vegetables

Assistance to the Production of Asian Vegetables (TCP/KEN/0054)

Date of Approval: November 1991
Date of Project Completion:
October 1993
FAO Contribution: US$ 311 000

I. Purpose and Achievement of TCP Project

Asian vegetables were introduced into Kenya with the influx of Asian workers early in the century. Experienced Asian growers, however, have progressively abandoned such crop production to pursue other careers in urban areas. Production shifted to small-scale indigenous farmers who have no traditional experience in Asian vegetable production which was thus characterized by low yields and pest and disease problems. Front-line extension staff were also inexperienced in this area, as training in the production of Asian vegetables was not included in their educational curriculum. There is, however, great growth potential for Asian vegetable production, both for the export and local market.

The project promoted the production of Asian vegetables through application of a package of appropriate technologies for the cultivation of ockra, chili, eggplant, dudhi, karela and turia, for the long and short rainy seasons in five agro-ecological areas of Kenya. Front-line extension staff and small-scale farmers were trained through workshops and farm demonstrations, introduction of optimum spacing and fertilizer levels resulted in increased yield and improved quality. Through nutrition education of housewives and children, the consumption of Asian vegetables of indigenous Kenyans families has increased.

II. Impact of Project on Agricultural Production and Income of Small Producers

Prior to the project the availability of quality of Asian type vegetables was decreasing as a consequence of the migration of Indian farmers to urban centers. The project reversed this trend by transferring the technologies to local indigenous Kenyan farmers. Particularly young farmers were very responsive and discovered a remunerative crop diversification option which procured additional income through sales of high quality produce for the local market and for export.

III. Extent of Catalytic Impact

In view of the agronomic and economic interest of growing and marketing Asian type vegetables, young farmers have discovered these crops as an alternative and a new opportunity to improve their income. The Government has included the production of Asian vegetables as a valuable option for crop diversification for small-scale labour intensive and irrigated production systems in the arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL'S).

A three year follow-up programme has been designed for implantation by NHRC to meet the requirements for farmers' support in terms of training and technical advisory service.

IV. National Counterpart Institution Nominated for the Award

The counterpart agency was the National Horticultural Research Centre (NHRC) which is part of the Horticulture and Home Economics Division, Ministry of Agriculture, Thika. Its purpose is to promote horticultural crop improvement in the country. It is adequately staffed and is funded by the Government to carry out its programmes. The national staff was very cooperative in implementing the project activities.

V. Role of the National Counterpart Institution in Project Execution and Follow-up

Due to active involvement of the national counterpart staff at all levels, the project had a significant impact on local production of Asian vegetables. The active participation of national staff in multidisciplinary applied research activities resulted in the formulation of practical recommendations regarding compost, fertilizers, spacing, plant training and trellising systems, disease and pest control methods. This approach permitted linking research with extension services and farmers through the use of trained front-line extension staff who implemented field demonstrations and farmer training programmes.

VI. Sustainability of Project Achievement

Following the recommendations of the TCP the Government initiated a three-year follow-up programme to maintain the momentum which met the expectations of the small-scale farmer community. The adoption of the improved production techniques, combined with the successful marketing of the increased production, will make the project's achievement sustainable.