Food Crops Research Institute-Alupe Centre has been in existance since 1956 when it was established by the East African Community to serve as a cotton research centre. With the breakup of the East African Community in 1970, the Centre was taken up by Scientific Research Division (SRD) of the Ministry of Agriculture. When KARI was formed in 1989, the Centre was made a sub-centre of Kakamega Research Centre. Later, when KALRO was formed through a Government Act of 2013, Alupe was upgraded to a full centre status.
Alupe Centre is situated in Busia County at latitude N 0o 29I 50II, longitude E 340 7I 31II and altitude 1,010 m. It is 9 km from Busia town along Busia Malava main road. The centre is about 200 acres and serves mostly smallholder farmers in the region comprising Bungoma, Siaya and Busia counties. The majority of farmers engage in cultivation of multiple crops as well as rearing of domestic livestock. The low agricultural productivity has contributed to rampant poverty experienced in the region. For example, maize, the major staple food crop, produces less than 0.5t per hectare while research indicates that up to 2.5t per hectare is reachable. As a result, the average household, with up to 8 persons per household usually get a deficit of up to 1,000 kg per year. Low soil fertility, presence of many aggressive weeds species, insect pests and regular droughts contribute immensely to food deficit in the region.
Important crops cultivated in the region include maize, sorghum, finger-millet, cassava, common beans, groundnuts, simsim and local vegetables. In 1993, KARI introduced oil palm to enable the country start cottage industry on oil production hence save the country from importation of oil. Many farmers in the region now have the crop but technology for processing is still lacking.
The Centre’s research objective is to contribute to the realization of KALRO mission, particularly focusing on food security, rural poverty alleviation, improved household economy, and environmental degradation reduction. The staff population is 26, four of whom have PhD level of education in Soil Science (2), Agronomy (1) and Post-harvest and Nutrition (1).