Monday, August 29, 2011

The concept has been around for years. In 2000, a UN taskforce on food security in the Horn of Africa highlighted the need for farmers to adopt drought-tolerant crop varieties. The Food and Agriculture Organisation talks about improving dryland crop production to build resilience, so the issue is to turn these ideas into reality.

Eunice Makenga could be part of the answer. She runs a small shop in Kenya's Nzaui district selling seeds, fertilisers and pesticides. One of only a few agro-dealers to sell improved drought-tolerant seeds, she buys small "trial packs" from Leldet farm in Nakuru - where Janey Leakey runs the first seed business to focus on these "neglected crops".

Leakey has been working with researchers from the International Crop Research Centre for the Semi-Arid Tropics (Icrisat) as well as the Kenya Agriculture Research Institute to develop and distribute higher-yielding and more drought- and pest-resistant crop varieties. For instance, improved pigeonpea varieties have produced an average 38% rise in harvests, Icrisat's research shows, while improved groundnut and chickpea varieties have increased harvests by 59% and 33% respectively. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


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