, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 12 – The Ministry of Agriculture has released 517 metric tonnes of assorted drought resistant crops seeds to be distributed to farmers in 99 constituencies in 31 counties across the country.
At a cost of over Sh104 million, the Ministry will also distribute 1.5 million cassava cuttings and 2.4 million sweet potato vines.
Flagging off the seeds on Tuesday Agriculture Minister Sally Kosgey said they will be taken to the arid and semi arid areas parts of the country so as to minimize famine in drought situation.
“Our policy in this ministry for quite sometime now has been to promote the traditional foods in this country. What we have now are better yielding seeds for the traditional foods because that is the only way we can avoid constant famine,” the outgoing minister said.
In addition the ministry will deliver a total of 516 metric tonnes of beans, green grams, cow peas, Irish potatoes and sorghum seeds worth Sh74 million to districts which have been most affected by the maize Lethal Necrosis Disease.
Dr Sally said the seeds will be sold to farmers at subsidised prize of 50 percent through the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB).
“We call this a very successful enterprise by the ministry of Agriculture. We have sent them off to the counties for planting, now that the rains are here with us. We just want to urge the farmers to make sure that they have planted them on time,” the minister added.
The ministry initiated the Traditional High Value Crops (THVC) programme in 2006 with the main aim of improving access to quality seeds through community seeds multiplication.
Since its inception, the programme has distributed a total of 5,420 metric tonnes of assorted drought tolerant seeds, 15.4 million sweet potato vines and 15.9 million cassava cuttings all valued at Sh 1.4 billion.
So far, over 2.5million farmers in over 101 districts have benefited from the programme funded by the European Union, the World Bank, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the German government.