KALRO feeding people by irrigating cassava

The ASAL APRP set up an irrigation system at KALRO’s Katumani-Kiboko centre at a cost of KES 7 million. The facility whose construction started in 2008 covers 81 acres and was aimed at the multiplication of nine (9) high yielding cassava varieties developed by KALRO-Katumani in partnership with farmers groups and other partners. The aim was to address scarcity of clean cassava planting material. When fully operational, the system has capacity to provide 10,000,000 million cuttings at staggered intervals in a year and especially at the beginning of every planting season in the dry lands of southeastern arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) of Kenya. The projection was to commercialise the facility to be sustainable after the project period.

Although the farm largely achieved its aim of supplying cuttings to farmers initially, its acreage has since diminished to less than half due to allocation of more than half of the 81 acres to other research activities. The supply may not be achieved and this may be a challenge to new players in cassava industry as was pointed out by Kiara Industries, a firm that aims to produce cassava products including starch and flour on large scale.