The Kenyan ministry of agriculture has urged maize farmers all over the country to plant millet, cassava, sorghum and amaranth crops to be used for blending maize flour in a move aimed at reducing overdependence on maize for food and income and improve the country’s nutritional needs.
According to a report released last year by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 73,000 children in the country are malnourished and are at risk of death due to hunger and poor feeding habits.
Up to four million farmers are targeted in the program aimed at promoting cultivation of indigenous crops, with 14m bags targeted for production by 2022.
Maize consumption is estimated at 98 kilograms per person per year, which translates to roughly 30 to 34 million bags (2.7 to 3.1m metric tonnes) per year, according to Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy And Development 2016 research.
A supermarket attendant stocks maize flour on the shelves. Courtesy
The ministry estimates that the blending of millet , cassava, amaranth and cassava with maize flour will reduce maize consumption from about 30m bags per year to about 20m bags over the same period while the surplus will be exported.
The program will be rolled out by the government in partnership with local flour millers and the farmers who will have access ready market for their produce.
The cost of the blended flour will be determined by market forces and the pilot project has already kicked off.
The government in future also targets to produce wheat and sweet potatoes blends.
This comes at a time when maize production decreased by 6.3 per cent from 37.8m bags in 2016 to 35.4m bags in 2017 according to the Economic Survey 2018.
1.6m bags of sorghum were produced in 2017 up from 1.3m bags in 2016, an increase of 23 per cent while 3.79m metric tonnes of cassava were produced during the same period.