Mkulima today banana farming is one of the hottest crops in Kenya. With the increase in demand for the crop, banana has become a cash crop just like tea and coffee. Currently, Kenya exports a lot of bananas to the international market and one of the cash cows for businesses like Twiga foods. With these in mind kalro is getting their hands dirty to boost quality and productivity and launched a new banana variety to keep pests at bay by KALRO.
The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) has identified pests and diseases, high cost of farm inputs and lack of certified seeds as the major challenges currently facing banana farmers.
To address the issue of pest and drought, the organization has moved into producing varieties that are disease-free and drought tolerant.
Banana has a great potential to contribute to food, economic and nutritional security but small holder farmers have not realized its benefits. Under research, yields range between 30-40 tons/ha, but smallholder farmers only get less than 10 tons/ha.
This is attributed to several constraints including high incidence of pests and diseases such as weevil borers, nematodes Fusarium wilt, Sigatoka and Xanthomonas Wilt.
Farmers should adhere to 3m by 3m spacing for planting banana. This will prevent land wastage and enable growth more healthy suckers which in return increase production – Dr. Nasambu Okoko, #KALRO during training of Trainers on banana value chain for Bometcounty & kericho county.
In implementing the second medium term plan the Kenya Government reformed the National Agricultural Research Systems through creation of the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO). Its formation was aimed at restructuring agricultural and livestock research into a dynamic, innovative, responsive and well-coordinated system driven by a common vision and goal. KALRO is a corporate body created under the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Act of 2013 to establish suitable legal and institutional framework for coordination of agricultural research in Kenya with the following goals:
– Promote, streamline, co-ordinate and regulate research in crops, livestock, genetic resources and biotechnology in Kenya.
– Expedite equitable access to research information, resources and technology and promote the application of research findings and technology in the field of agriculture.
While striving to fulfil the stated goals, KALRO will be obliged to:
- Formulate policy and make policy recommendations to the Cabinet Secretary on agricultural research.
- Prioritize areas for, and co-ordinate, agricultural research in Kenya in line with the national policy on agriculture.
- Determine and advise the Government on the resource requirements for agricultural research in Kenya both at the national and county level.
- Regulate, monitor and ensure that all agricultural research undertaken by research institutes and other institutions or persons undertaking agricultural research is consistent with the national priorities specified in the relevant policy documents.
- Establish and exercise control over the research institutes, committees and research centres established pursuant to this Act.
- Formulate or approve medium and long term research plans, strategies and budgets of research institutes, committees and organization’s established pursuant to this Act.
- Provide grants to research institutes and persons desirous of carrying out research and training programs which are consistent with the national research priorities and plans of the Organization.
- Support and promote the training and capacity building in relation to agricultural research.
- Promote the dissemination and application of research findings in the field of agriculture and the establishment of a Science Park.
- Liaise with and ensure the co-ordination of institutions, agencies and persons involved in agricultural research.
- Establish platforms for the purposes sharing of research information, advancing research and transfer of technology and dissemination of information relating to advancements made in agricultural research.
- Ensure continuance of performance improvement in the field of agricultural research.
- Perform such other functions as may be conferred on it by this Act or any other written law.For more information on KALRO please refer to Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Act No 17 of 2013
New banana variety to keep pests at bay by KALRO progress
According to Dr. Felister Makini, the Deputy Director in charge of crops at KALRO pests and diseases were some of the challenges facing banana farming.
Dr. Makini said that the research organization has already come up with a cavendish variety that is tolerant to the banana wilt disease.
“We are working around the clock to come up with another variety that can do well in parts of Eastern Kenya where there is scarcity of water” Said Dr Makini.
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