KENYA – In a concerted effort to enhance food security and transform the agricultural sector, the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO) has unveiled the National Agricultural Value Chain Development Project (NAVCPD).

This five-year initiative, backed by funding from KALRO, the World Bank, and other partners, represents a significant investment of Sh.3.5 billion (U.S$ 24,018,564) by KALRO and an estimated Sh.20 billion (U.S$ 137,248,940) from the participating 33 counties.

The primary focus of the NAVCPD project is to empower smallholder farmers, facilitating their transition from subsistence farming to commercial agriculture through value addition.

Dr. Eliud Kireger, the Director General of KALRO, emphasized the project’s commitment to leveraging technology to provide critical information to farmers, including market insights and agro-weather patterns. Additionally, the project will offer quality planting materials and livestock breeds to farmers.

Dr. Kireger highlighted a notable example in poultry farming, where KALRO has developed an improved ‘Kienyeji’ breed that promises to enhance meat and egg production for smallholder farmers.

To date, the project has registered five million smallholder farmers, with plans to expand this outreach to reach even more farmers across the country. The registration will enable real-time information dissemination to make the project more successful.

During the project launch, Dr. Kireger also issued a call to farmers, particularly in the North Rift region, to expedite their maize harvesting and drying processes before the anticipated El-Niño rains in October.

Enhancing value chains and market linkages

Dr. Felista Makini, KALRO’s Deputy Director General for Crops and Research, outlined the organization’s role in enhancing value chains and providing market linkages.

The project aims to increase the value addition of targeted value chains through processing, opening up opportunities for farmers to earn more from their efforts.

Dr. Makini highlighted that many smallholder farmers, particularly in rural areas, are women, and empowering them will improve family food security and nutrition.

Furthermore, the commercialization of farming and improved market linkages are expected to reduce imports and boost export earnings for Kenya.

KALRO is collaborating with licensed seed processors to ensure an adequate supply of quality planting materials to farmers, reports Kenya News Agency.

Climate-resilience and productivity boost

As part of the program, KALRO will distribute climate-resilience-certified seeds and science-improved livestock breeds to enhance productivity.

The project aligns with the Government’s Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA) and encompasses 16 priority value chains, including dairy, poultry, coffee, cotton, pyrethrum, cashew nuts, and various fruits and vegetables.

These value chains contribute to the pillars of Food and Nutrition Security, Growing Exports, and Reducing Imports.

Ultimately, the NAVCPD project is set to increase market participation and value addition for targeted farmers across the 33 implementing counties.

It is poised to strengthen the agricultural sector, uplift rural communities, and foster sustainable economic growth, all critical elements in Kenya’s quest to bolster its food security and agricultural resilience.

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