The KALRO Arid and Range Lands Research Institute was created under the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Act of 2013. Research on arid lands started in 1969 in Kiboko. Its focus is in developing, adapting and up-scaling scientific research innovations, information and knowledge geared towards sustainably managing livelihoods of communities living in the arid and semi-arid lands.  This then entails addressing livestock, dry land crops and alternative livelihood options.

The Institute is located in ecological zone V which is not suitable for arable agriculture but ideal for extensive production of cattle, goats, sheep and camels. There is however need to develop drought tolerant varieties to support household food production. Dry land farming research was based in Katumani, Machakos County, and focused on the development of technologies for soil and water management for the dry areas to improve crop varieties which tolerate various stresses, pests and diseases.