Kenya’s researchers on Thursday said they had launched a programme aimed at improving the growing of groundnuts, coconut, cashew nuts and other nut crops, processing and marketing.
Eliud Kireger, Director-General of Kenya Agricultural Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO), disclosed this in Nairobi.
Kireger said the country’s nut industry was performing poorly because most of the nut crops that were introduced in the country have aged, and are now producing low quality nuts.
“We have started research on macadamia, groundnuts, coconut and cashew nuts to improve their quality to boost trade locally and internationally,” Kireger told journalists in Nairobi.
Kireger revealed that preliminary studies shows that the programme is fast yielding good results and will avail high yielding quality nuts.
He said that the programme had resulted into high yielding groundnuts which are preferred for roasting and another variety that is cream in colour and produces quality peanut butter.
The official said that the current poor marketing strategy that has led to producers earning little money will come to an end since the government plans to open up local and international markets.
“This programme is intended to educate farmers to abandon planting of poor yielding materials by adopting superior and pest resistant varieties,” he added.
He said that KALRO researchers have been instructed to improve their interaction between them and farmers to lay ground for the technology transfer.
The researcher said that KALRO had embarked on promoting new seed varieties through goggle’s play store in its website where 30 online applications are placed.
“We are soon featuring additional 28 online applications mainly on horticultural crops to help boost agriculture in the country,” he added.
Kireger said that KALRO researchers were looking for all avenues of availing modern and current information to farmers in rural areas beyond relying on extension services.
The official added that thousands of farmers have started downloading the online applications that is expected to double crop, poultry and livestock production.
He told farmers to redouble their effort since the government is leading in finding markets for their produce.
Kireger observed that the nuts would be processed and value added locally before being sold to the local and international market.
In another development, Kenya plans to use block chain technology to boost food security, a senior government official said.
Joe Mucheru, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Information Communication and Technology, said this in Nairobi that technology such as artificial intelligence could be used to track agricultural produce from end-to-end from seeds to marketplace.
“We will also be introducing a citizen service to track the origin of food products and report unsafe food products,” Mucheru said when he received a report from the distributed ledgers technology and artificial intelligence taskforce.
The task force was created in 2018, to develop a roadmap for emerging technologies that will define the evolving fourth industrial revolution.
Mucheru said that the team would receive views of the public on the use of block chain and artificial intelligence for the next three weeks.
“Thereafter the report will present to cabinet for approval so that the implementation of the recommendations commences,” he added.
Mucheru said that blockchain technologies were expected to be disruptive and will change the way business is conducted in Kenya.
“They further promise to enhance public service delivery, while promoting efficiency in the private sector by streamlining supply chains,” he added.
Bitange Ndemo, Chairperson of the Task force, said that the use of blockchain and artificial intelligence technologies could be transformative across several key sectors in Kenya, including healthcare, agriculture, education and government services.