NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Kenya requires a paradigm policy shift to
encourage household consumption of locally grown crops with good
protein such as green grams, a scientist said on Monday.
Moses Siambi, the
International Crops Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics
(ICRISAT) Regional and Research Program Director for Eastern and
Southern Africa said Kenya produces enough green grams that
could help improve nutrition.
enough green grams that could be consumed locally instead of
producing for export,” Siambi told Xinhua in Nairobi.
The scientist said
that cases of stunting that is common in Eastern part of the
country can best be managed by consumption of crops that are
high in protein as opposed to growing the crops for sale only.
Siambi also called
for consumer awareness towards changing Kenya’s food eating
habits to replace western recipes in the menus with local ones.
“Farmers need to
retain surplus cereals for household consumption to help reduce
cases of stunting that is high in some parts of the country,” he
He recommended the
promotion of eating of green grams with ugali, a dish made of
maize flour (cornmeal), millet flour, or sorghum flour cooked in
boiling liquid as opposed to eating the westernized chapatti and
“The emerging market
of vegetarians in the country and outside is a ready market that
could be exploited in benefiting farmers,” Siambi revealed.
“Kenya requires a
local plant to help process green gram as opposed to exporting
the crop raw as this will help create jobs locally,” he added.
Siambi revealed that
out of the 143,000 metric tons of green grams required in Kenya
annually, Kenyan farmers produces 100,000 metric tons.
He said that the
farmers are also capable of producing additional cereals to
bridge the 43,000 metric tons that is imported to bridge the
“Kenyan farmers are
capable of over producing green gram for both domestic and
foreign market but has a problem with post harvest storage of
the cereal,” the scientist said.
Siambi noted that
green grams is grown in Eastern and Western Kenya in plenty and
is enough to supply the whole country.
He said that rather
than farmers produce for the market blindly, there is need to
train them to develop business plan and resort to farming where
cost of production dictates the end price.
Siambi warned that
present farmers are making losses because profitability of their
produce is determined by brokers.
“For farming to be
practiced as a business, farmers ought to know the cost of
production so that they can dictate the prices of their
commodities and be able to benefit just like other
professionals,” Siambi added.
He called for the
promotion of intra-Africa trade to serve the rising population
within the continent unlike growing food with the expectation of
exporting to other continents.