Thematic Areas

a)            Overview

The future thrusts of the crop thematic area of research include effective application of biotechnological techniques among others to address issues such as hastening the pace of crop improvement as well as value addition, food safety and solving intractable biotic and abiotic stresses. In crop health, attention will be focused on integrated pest management (IPM), including use of bio-control agents and establishment of a repository for pests and diseases.

b)            Rationale and Justification

(a)                 Nut-crops Value Chain

(i)           Rationale

Coconuts, cashew-nuts, groundnuts, macadamia are the most important nut crops used for human consumption and industrial application. However demand outstrips supply due to inappropriate technologies, emergingimpacts and consequences of climate change, inadequate processing capacity, poor markets and marketing. Thus, the nation spends an annual average of KSh.800 m in importing processed coconut products such products as coconut oil, desiccated coconut and exports raw nuts leading to increased losses either as part of the Gross National Product (GNP) or the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  Addressing these challenges through research and policy intervention will result in increased productivity and incomes of the key selected nuts value chains for improved livelihood.

c)             Objectives

  • To improve and promote nut-crops varieties
  • To test and validate nuts production, processing and utilization technologies

d)            Challenges and constraints

  • High prevalence of pests and diseases
  • Poor quality and high cost of inputs,
  • Fluctuations in supply of inputs
  • Poor marketing infrastructure,
  • Narrow product range targeting limited markets and poor marketing strategies
  • Intensive cultivation poses serious nutrient depletion of soils,
  • Agro ecosystems, management of diseases, pests and weeds
  • Erosion of genetic biodiversity
  • Low adoption of improved industrial crops clones/varieties
  • Negative impacts of climate change
  • Poor pre-and-post-harvest handling

e)             Strategic focus

Industrial crops technologies and innovations are central to addressing the challenges that continue to impede growth of the sector. To increase productivity, commercialization and competitiveness of the industrial crop sub sector the strategic focus shall involve:

  1. Develop and promote improved industrial crop varieties;
  2. Develop good agronomic technologies and practices;
  3. Improve and maintain industrial crops health;
  4. Develop pre- and post-harvest handling and storage technologies and practices;
  5. Support the development of processing and value addition;
  6. Document, adapt and promote approved Indigenous Technical Knowledge (ITK) on industrial crops;
  7. Support industrial crops conservation.