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UK non-profit taps Migori farmers to commercialise in-demand grain amaranth

UK non-profit Ripple Effect International and the Kenya Agricultural and the Kenya Livestock and Research Organization (KALRO) are contracting farmers in Migori County to produce grain amaranth seeds to enable the commercialisation of the highly sought-after climate-smart crop in Kenya.

According to the AfriFI Kenya Climate Smart Agricultural Productivity Project (AfriFI Kenya CS APP), the production of grain amaranth is in its infancy in Kenya. Demand for the pseudo-cereal which can be used as a nutrient-rich vegetable, grain, and livestock feed as well as having industrial applications currently outstrips supply making it one of the most commercially viable crops in the country.

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Currently, grain amaranth is grown on about 389 Ha producing 2,057MT of grain valued at Sh70 million. Kenya imports 10,000MT of grain amaranth annually (80 per cent of the quantities produced in the country) from Uganda and India to meet the shortfall in demand.

According to Ripple Effect Kenyan Director Titus Sagala the project aims to commercialise two new varieties of grain amaranth researched by KALRO; Terere Smart and Kat Gold.

“The crop has performed exemplarily in Migori such that we are looking to contract some farmers to produce the seed which can be bought by farmers across Kenya to grow the crop renowned for its high nutritive value,” he said in an interview with the Kenya News Agency. 

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According to Boaz Nyaoro, a Ripple Effect field official, the crop has multiple benefits to farmers; it is a highly nutritious food source, while its grains can add value in the making of profitable products and are also sold for propagation by other farmers.

“We have been training farmers through the Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI) on governance and how to go about grain amaranth value addition which has seen them get a Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) certificate. This has enabled farmers to make products such as pure amaranth flour, composites of amaranth mixed with cassava and millet which can be used in making healthier options of cakes, chapatis, and mandazis,” he outlined.

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