News and knowhow for farmers

Kenyan farmers embrace disease-resistant cassava on rising prices 

Cassava is a hardy, drought-tolerant crop ideal for smallholder farmers as it can be grown across a variety of conditions. The crop grows in areas with rainfall as low as 200 mm and can do well in nutrition-depleted soils with high acidity. 

Kenyan farmers are gradually embracing cassava production due to the availability of disease-resistant varieties and good market prices. It also has low maintenance costs as it doesn’t require expensive agricultural inputs such as fertilisers, irrigation, and pesticides. 

The area under cassava cultivation has increased to 65,769 Ha in 2022. The State Department for Crops Development & Agricultural Research pegged this rise to more farmers embracing cassava production due to good prices in the market and low maintenance costs. In the past five years, the average farm gate price of a 100 Kg bag of tuber has increased from Sh1,982 to Sh3,200. The wholesale price went from Sh2,544 to Sh4,852 over the same period.

Related News: East African scientists push cassava preservation to remove poisonous cyanide

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Cassava is rich in carbohydrates and is a staple food for 33 per cent of Africa’s population who rely on it for over 50 per cent of their daily calories. 

Kenya produced just 571,845 metric tons of cassava in 2015– well below its consumption needs and production potential. This has since increased to close to one million tonnes annually.

Key to this improved production has been the availability of disease-free planting material for high-yielding cassava varieties. 

Speaking to Devex International, Samson Khachina, Busia agriculture county director said that cassava diseases were spread by the cross-border exchange of seeds leading to total loss of yields to farmers to the point that farmers in the region switched to growing sorghum, maize, and millet for their starch..

“We moved in to help farmers get seed varieties that yield higher, mature faster, and are tolerant to pests and diseases,” said Isabella Omemwa– a cassava researcher at KALRO, Kakamega.

KALRO’s e-Extension Platform points out another factor that makes cassava popular with small-scale farmers is that the crop can remain in the soil as a famine reserve for a long time after it matures. It also requires limited labour in its production and there are no labour peaks because the necessary operations in its production can be spread throughout the year, and its yields fluctuate less than those of cereals.

Related News: Former casual labourer births cassava value addition empire

The cassava varieties currently available to Kenyan farmers are:

  1. MM95/0183
  • Maturity: 10-15 months
  • This is a mid-maturing, high/medium yielding cassava variety that is sweet tasting (low cyanide content)
  • Rainfall: 800-1200 annually
  • Altitude range: 800-1500 m.a.s.l.
  • Soils: Well-drained sandy loam.
  • Yield: (t ha-1) 50-70.
  1. Katsuhanzala (990132)
  • Maturity: 8-10 months
  • Its root flesh colour is cream
  • Used for home consumption or industrial purposes
  • Wide adaptation from the coffee zone to the coastal region
  • High yielding: 36.7 t/ha
  • High dry matter
  • Stress resistant
  • Low in cyanogenic potential (HCN)
  • Rainfall: 500-1000 annually
  • Altitude: 200-1500 m.a.s.l.
  • Soils well-drained sandy loam
  1. KME-3
  • Resistant to cassava mosaic disease 
  • Early maturing
  • Low CNP making it sweet
  • Poundable.
  • Dry matter of 29%
  • Root pulp colour is cream 
  • Grows in warm, semi-arid areas, 200-2000 m.a.s.l.
  • Rainfall range: 500-1000 mm per year
  • Maturity: 8-10 Months
  • Yields: 40 t/ha.
  • Drought tolerant.
  1. Katune (990005)
  • Maturity: 8-10 months
  • Flesh colour is cream
  • Wide adaptation from the coffee zone to the coastal region
  • Yield: 37.1 t/ha
  • Resistant to cassava mosaic disease
  • Rainfall: 500-1000 annually
  • Altitude: 200-1500 m.a.s.l.
  • Soils: Well-drained sandy loam
  1. KME-2
  • Resistant to cassava mosaic disease
  • Yield: 45 t/ha
  • Maturity: 8-10 months
  • Altitude: 200 – 2000 m.a.s.l.
  • Rainfall: 500-1000 mm per year
  1. Migyera
  • Maturity: 10-15 months
  • Yields: 20 t/ha
  • Sweet/ low cyanide
  • Altitude: 800-1750 m.a.s.l.
  • Rainfall: 500-1200 mm per year
  1. Shibe
  • Straight stems ideal for intercropping
  • Maturity: 8-12 months
  • Altitude: 15-1200 m.a.s.l.
  • Rainfall: 500- 1000 mm per year
  • Yields: 70.1 t/ha
  1. Tajirika
  • Straight stems ideal for intercropping
  • Maturity: 8 months
  • Altitude: 15-1200 m.a.s.l.
  • Rainfall: 500-1000 mm per year
  • Yield: 63.3 t/ha
  1. Nzalauka
  • Straight stems ideal for intercropping
  • Maturity: 6-8 months
  • Altitude: 15-1200 m.a.s.l.
  • Rainfall: 500-1000 mm/year
  • Yields: 52.9 t/ha
  1. Siri
  • High branching- good for intercropping
  • Maturity: 8-12 months
  • Altitude: 15-1200 m.a.s.l.
  • Rainfall: 400-100 mm/year
  • Yields: 57.7 t/ha
  1. Karibuni
  • Short with open canopy
  • Maturity: 8 months
  • Altitude: 15-1200 m.a.s.l.
  • Rainfall: 400-1000 mm per year
  • Yields: 68.2 t/ha
  1. Karembo
  • Drought tolerant
  • Maturity: 8-12 months
  • Rainfall: 250-1300 mm per year
  • Altitude: 15-1200 m.a.s.l.
  • Yields: 50-70 t/ha
  1. Guzo
  • Rainfall: 250-1300 mm per year
  • Altitude: 10-700 m.a.s.l.
  • Maturity: 12-15 months
  • Yields: 20-40 t/ha
  1. Kibandameno
  • Rainfall 250-1300 mm per year
  • Altitude 15-1200 m.a.s.l.
  • Drought tolerant
  • Maturity 12-14 months
  • Yields 20-30 t/ha
  1. KME1
  • Rainfall 200-1000 mm per year
  • Altitude 250-1500 m.a.s.l.
  • Drought tolerant
  • Maturity 12-14 months
  • Yields 20-25 t/ha
  1. KME 4
  • Rainfall: 200-1000 mm per year
  • Altitude: 250-1500 m.a.s.l.
  • Drought tolerant
  • Maturity: 8-10 months
  • Yield: 30-40 t/ha
  1. KME 61
  • Rainfall: 200-1000 mm per year
  • Altitude: 250-1500 m.a.s.l
  • Drought tolerant
  • Tolerant to cassava mosaic virus and scales.
  • Maturity: 14-16 months
  • Yield: 25-35 t/ha.
  1. Mucericeri
  • Rainfall 200-1000 mm per year
  • Altitude 250-1750 m.a.s.l.
  • Maturity 12-14 months
  • Yields 15-20 t/ha

All these cassava varieties can be obtained from KALRO Mkulima shops countrywide.

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