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Scientist says Kenya needs paradigm policy
shift to consumption of own crops

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.

“Kenya produces 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 added.

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 rice.

“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 gap.

“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.



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