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The government has embarked on a multi-million project to supply close to 2m seedlings of underutilized fruits to farmers as part of meeting the country’s food and nutritional security.

According to the CS Agriculture Peter Munya 781,800 seedlings would be supplied to farmers in 17 counties with plans to increase the numbers in the coming months. 

Speaking in KARLO farm in Naivasha before flagging off vehicles ferrying the seeds, Munya said that the seedlings include tomato, underutilized fruits and cocoa seedlings. 

“The underutilized fruits comprise of guava, jackfruit, pomegranate, custard apple, sour sop, loquat, gooseberry, blackberry, raspberry, tree tomato, tamarind and java plum,” he said. 

On tomato, he said that the produce was ranked among the high value horticultural crops in the country accounting for 38.1 percent of the total value of exotic vegetables. 

He admitted that farmers faced various challenges including low yielding cultivars and lack of certified tomato seedlings. 

He said that under the Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Project (KCSAP), KALRO would supply another 514,000 tomato seedlings to farmers in Kajiado, Siaya, Garissa, Elgeyo Marakwet and Mandera Counties

During the event, the CS announced that KARLO in partnership with Bear Machines from West Africa had introduced Cocoa plant to farmers.

“KALRO will supply 40,000 cocoa seedlings to Kilifi, Kwale, Taita Taveta, Lamu, Busia, Bungoma, Vihiga, Kakamega, Kisumu, Siaya, Homabay and Migori counties,” he said.

He added that under the Underutilized Fruit Programme funded by USAID, KALRO would further distribute 227,800 assorted fruits seedlings to 14 counties. 

During the event, Munya launched the Kenya Agricultural Observation Platform (KAOP) which is meant to monitor rain patterns and the first of its kind in the region.

The CS noted that the new App had the capacity to accurately provide information on rainfall in terms of probable amount and time.

He added that the new technology would also provide data on previous rainy days and predict long term trends as well as long term and current rainfall location plus pests and disease forecasts.

“Accurate weather forecast is a necessary prerequisite for farm planning and production for both producers and consumers,” he said.

On his part, the PS  for Research in the Ministry Hamadi Boga noted that there was need to support KARLO in its research efforts as this would lead to an increase in food production.

“Research is the basis of good agriculture and we are impressed by the ongoing innovation by KARLO which includes developing and preserving new genetics,” he said.

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