Scientists have urged Kenya to embrace production of cassava in order to boost the country’s food security.
Virus Resistant Cassava for Africa (VIRCA) Kenya Project Principal Investigator Dr Douglas Miano said in Nairobi that cassava is an ideal crop to be cultivated in the country’s vast arid and semi arid areas.
“Cassava is an alternative crop especially in areas where the Kenya’s staple crop, maize can’t perform well,” Miano said during a science cafe late on Friday. Cassava farming is most prevalent in western and coastal regions.
Miano noted that cassava has numerous advantages over maize because it generally requires less fertilizer application. “This means that farmers spend less to produce the crop as compared to maize,” he said.
Cassava can also be harvested in piecemeal and so farmers can be assured of food over a long period while maize is harvested at once.
In addition, the food crop has many industrial uses including in the production of starch and ethanol for use in the textile, wood and pharmaceutical industries.
Despite cassava being the country’s second most important food crop, its production has been declining since the 1990s.
Maino, who is also a Lecturer of Plant Pathology and Biotechnology at the University of Nairobi said that the decrease in production is due to the prevalence of diseases that has led to farmers’ losses as well as the fact that cassava is considered as a food for the poor. Enditem