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close this bookKilimo News - A Quarterly Newsletter of the Ministry of Agriculture - September 1998 (Agriculture Information Centre, 1998, 32 p.)
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Boosting crop production in marginal areas.

J.K. Kanjagua - KILIMO HOUSE.

Eastern Province, Horticulture and Traditional Food Crops Project (Funded by IFAD and GOK) was initiated in 1992 when GOK in collaboration with FAO identified investment possibilities in the food crops sub-sector. Two areas were identified: -

· Development of horticultural crops for export, based or. small-holder irrigation development and support for export marketing.

· Development of traditional food crops namely - sorghum, millet, cassava and sweet potatoes in the arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL).

Sorghum thriving well in arid and semi-arid areas

The Project aims at improving small holder incomes, provision of food security in project area through promotion and protection of natural resources especially water for irrigation, strengthening and registration of support services and to support beneficiary participation in planning and development activities.

The project is located in seven districts of Eastern Province - Machakos, Makueni, Embu, Mbeere, Meru, Nyambene and Tharaka Nithi. It covers an area of approximately 23,600 km2 with a population of 3.3 million. This region covers a wide range of agro-ecological zones, from the high to medium potential eastern slopes of Mt. Kenya to the low potential arid and semi-arid zones extending to the lower parts of Mt. Kenya into the downward sloping plateaus further east. Available tillable land is a major constraint in the project area. This is especially so for the high to medium potential areas which are very densely populated and where the greatest challenge is to increase output from the available resources. In ASAL areas, there is still abundant land in physical terms but prime land with adequate water resources is scarce.

The work will include: -

· Rehabilitation of 1,475 ha of existing irrigation schemes (through contracts) for horticultural production. The horticultural products will be marketed through Horticultural Crops Development Authority (HCDA).

· Provision of input credit through Cooperative Bank, as a revolving fund, on the basis of group security.

· Production of seed for traditional food crops. Through the assistance of Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), seed multiplication will be done by farmers. KARI will provide basic education to farmers and extension staff on production of seed.

· Product promotion will be done by Home Economics Branch in conjunction with a contracted NGO.

· Processing of traditional food crops will be guided by Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI). KIRDI will adapt and test appropriateness of small to medium scale food processing equipment and technology. Small mills operators will be given loans through the Bank to initiate pilot processing.

· Extension services mobilization and extension research linkages, covering project area and specifically addressing horticulture and traditional food crops problems.