Promoting Grain Amaranth Production and Utilization Technologies In Lower Eastern: Mbuvo ASAL APRP Field Day in Mbuvo, Kathonzweni, Makueni County, January, 2014

Reported by: F. Omari, E. Njiru, D. Mutisya, M. Karoki, C.K. Ariithi, R. Mokua and C. Magondu

Introduction

Grain amaranth is relatively new crop in lower eastern Kenya having been introduced nearly five years ago by KARI Katumani research centre. It is therefore not yet well understood and its production and utilization in the region is still at its infancy. However, production and consumption of the crop is picking up well particularly in Muthetheni, Yatta (Machakos County) and Mbuvo (Makueni County). The European Union (EU) in collaboration with the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) is funding grain amaranth research at Katumani. The major objective of the project is to improve food and nutritional security among vulnerable groups in semi-arid areas of Kenya. This is to be achieved through up/outscaling of improved proven grain amaranth production and post-harvest technologies. Several strategies are employed in disseminating production and utilization of these technologies. This include; field days, demonstrations, training of farmers/farmer groups and exhibitions.

Mbuvo Field Day

During the year 2014, different dissemination approaches were used to promote grain amaranth production and utilization in the region. One of the successful events was a field day held in January, at Mrs Monica Mulungye's farm at Mbuvo, Machakos County. The objective of the field day was to expose Makueni farmers to ASAL APRP supported crop production technologies. The event was successful with 210 farmers in attendance from Machakos and Mukueni Counties. These were representatives of farmer groups growing amaranth in different parts of the two Counties and the Mbuvo residents.  There were seven exhibitors who displayed different technologies, among them were the ministry of agriculture who sensitized the community on affloxins and post harvesting handling of maize. KARI Katumani exhibited the technologies that are funded by ASAL APRP thus amaranth, cassava and sorghum. The other programmes from Katumani that had displays were the KARI seed unit (KSU), who showcased seeds and trained farmers on suitable crop varieties for different agro-ecological zones (AEZs) in the region. The centre's crop protection team displayed on major pests and diseases afflicting crops and their management. The natural resource management programme displayed and trained farmers on water harvesting and soil conservation technologies. The Food Science Programme exhibited semi processed and finished products from different crops. The Food science programme also served the guests with foods made from the ASAL supported crop production technologies (amaranth, cassava and sorhum).  Other exhibitors were Dryland Seeds Ltd, UNICORD Mwailu enterprises, Universal Traders SACCO (a financial institution). Two farmer groups; Mbuvo community organization (CBO) and Utithini women orphan child care group were among the exhibitors.  Mbuvo CBO displayed amaranth and cassava products (processed and semi processed) while Uthithini women group exhibited amaranth, African leafy vegetables (ALVs) and dried fruits. Both groups did a good business by selling their products, they also made useful contacts.

 

 

                

Technical dissemination                                          Training of farmers on value addition

               

Farmers learning on exhibited technologies           Chief Guests during the Mbuvo Field Day

The field day was graced by Dr. Miano (Chief Guest) and Dr Kariuki, Centre Director KARI Katumani, also in attendance were representatives of the County Director of Agriculture, Makueni.  The Kathonzweni, Nzaui, Makindu and Kibwezi sub County agricultural officers were also in attendance. The Kathonzweni and Kibwezi agricultural personnel were manning various stations alongside KARI staff.  Some members of the Makueni County Assembly and the Provincial Administration were also present.

Pictures of Amaranth and its products