East Africa

 
 
 
CIMMYT

CIMMYT

Protein-rich maize - a nutritious crop

With higher levels of protein than normal maize, quality protein maize (QPM) is a valuable crop for resource-poor families who depend on maize as their staple food. In Gulu district, Uganda, an innovation platform for technology adoption (IPTA) has been set up to introduce and promote the crop. Grace Amito, one member of the platform, has been encouraging farmers to adopt it through her radio programmes. Charles Komakech, focal person of the IPTA, explains how farmers can maintain the quality of the crop by avoiding cross pollination, and commercial farmer Oola Lawrence explains the benefits of QPM compared to normal maize.

published: October 2013

CIMMYT

CIMMYT

Pest-free storage for quality protein maize

In northern Uganda, farmers growing quality protein maize (QPM) have been encouraged to make the most of their crop through improved storage and processing. A new warehouse has been built in the area by the World Food Programme, where farmers can deposit their crop in a clean, pest-free environment, ready to be sold later in the year when prices rise. Farmers have also been linked to local milling industries, and trained to use the QPM as a component of animal feed. But with its sweet taste and soft texture, the protein-rich maize is also enjoyed by farmers and their families, who use it to make porridge and posho, two local staple foods.

published: October 2013

Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Orange fleshed sweet potato for better health

In Busia County, western Kenya, orange fleshed sweet potato, rich in vitamin A, is being grown by an increasing number of farmers for domestic consumption and for sale. Some are also growing and selling sweet potato vines to farmers locally and in other parts of the country, helping to spread the crop further. The development of the crop is being supported by a wide range of organisations, who have formed the Busia Innovation Platform in order to coordinate their efforts. In the first of a two-part series, Pius Sawa speaks to some of those involved in promoting the crop. 

published: October 2013

Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Sweet potato - adding value by processing

Having grown bumper harvests of orange fleshed sweet potato, farmers in Busia, western Kenya, needed a way to preserve the excess crop that could not be sold straight away. They chipped the potatoes into small pieces, and experimented with different systems of drying the chips, including solar driers and greenhouse driers. The dried chips are sold to markets in larger cities in Kenya, and are also milled into flour, to make a wide range of foods. These foods are very nutritious, being rich in vitamin A. The future plans for the farmers include the development of new products and the export of fresh roots and flour to international markets. They are also building new processing facilities so that their operation can be certified by KEBS, the Kenya Bureau of Standards.

published: October 2013

Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Health-giving maize

In Morogoro, eastern Tanzania, a number of farmers have adopted cultivation of quality protein maize (QPM), which is much richer in protein than normal maize. The crop is being used by a local orphanage to feed malnourished children, and the Health Food company is also training the farmers in how to make best use of the crop in home consumption. Livestock feed manufacturer, International Tanfeeds, is also using the QPM to make a high-protein poultry feed, and training farmers in various parts of the region to grow the crop.

published: October 2013

Pius Sawa

Pius Sawa

Cattle and feed to cope with drought

In Kenya’s Rift Valley, the Nasukuta Livestock Improvement Centre works to introduce more productive livestock breeds to local farmers and also acts as a training demonstration centre. To maintain feed supplies during dry spells, the centre plants pasture grasses, such as Boma Rhodes, and fences off certain areas so that the grass can be cut and baled, rather than grazed directly. Rainwater harvesting provides water for the animals throughout the year. A newly built abattoir processes thousands of animals each day, and is helping farmers become more commercial in their approach to livestock farming.

published: August 2013

Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Drought-resistant groundnuts

Unexpected changes in the weather, including sudden dry spells, are a major problem for groundnut farmers in semi-arid parts of Uganda. The Serere-based National Semi Arid Resources Research Institute has supported farmers by developing drought resistant varieties of groundnut, some of which mature in less than 100 days. According to groundnut breeder Dr Moses Biruma, with good management, varieties such as Serenut 5 can yield up to 3.6 tons per hectare. The new varieties have now been adopted on a large scale, helping many groundnut farmers to maintain their production despite adverse weather conditions.

published: August 2013

Collins Odhiambo/ActionAid

Collins Odhiambo/ActionAid

Livestock restocking in response to drought

When serious drought occurs in dry areas such as northern Kenya, many animals, such as cows, goats and camels, may die. For livestock keepers, this puts their own lives at risk as they may have no other sources of income or food. Several NGOs are attempting to support these communities by replacing lost animals, a process known as restocking. This has become even more important in recent years, as drought periods have become more frequent and more intense, as a result of climate change. Winnie Onyimbo hears from a livestock farmer who has benefitted from a restocking, and from two technical advisers who have helped to organise restocking programmes in the area.

published: August 2013

www.newnaturefoundation.org

www.newnaturefoundation.org

Multiple benefits from fuel-saving stoves

In Mbarara, in south western Uganda, the introduction of fuel-saving stoves is having a wide range of benefits. The stoves are being introduced through primary schools, as part of an ‘eco schools’ project run by the CECOD NGO. The stoves use less than half the firewood than normal three-stone stoves, helping to reduce rates of deforestation. They also burn much cleaner, so those responsible for cooking don’t suffer from eye irritations or from inhaling smoke. By reducing the amount of firewood families need, they also reduce the time spent collecting wood, and therefore the risks that women and girls can be exposed to when collecting firewood.

published: August 2013

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Improving yields through local crop breeding

In Kenya’s Central Rift Valley, sweet potato farmers have struggled to produce healthy, high yielding crops, with much of their harvest lost to plant viruses or damaged by weevils. In response, sweet potato breeders from the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute have worked with farmers in the area to select and develop better varieties of sweet potato, which are tolerant of viruses, high yielding and contain high levels of nutrients and vitamin A. Breeder Laura Karanja explains the process, and how through planting the new varieties and attention to farming practices such as weed control, farmers can expect to double their yields. She also points out the importance of breeding crops specific to local areas, in order to match local conditions such as rainfall patterns, soil moisture and altitude.

published: February 2013

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