About the Department
Crop production plays an important role in Kenya's economic development as a major source of income, employment creation and saving on foreign exchange expenditure through import substitution. This sub-sector is a major occupation of the rural population and accounts for a large share of the total agricultural output. The Crops sub-sector provides national food and nutritional security and income generation through local and export markets. This sub-sector plays a significant role in the delivery on the Millennium Development Goals of reducing poverty and hunger, as well as meeting the aspirations encapsulated in various Kenya Government policy documents such as Vision 2030 (GoK, 2008) and the Agriculture Sector Development Strategy (2009-2014). Currently the annual crop production stands at 6 million tons of food crops, 4.2 million tons of horticultural crops and 500,000 tons of industrial crops, all supporting 10 million households. Crop diseases, pests and weeds greatly reduce the potential of these crop categories in quality and quantity. Currently, losses due to these constraints are estimated at 40%. Efforts to increase production and reduce these losses take cognizance of the need to conserve the environment.
The crop sub-sector does not currently meet the country's demand for maize, wheat, rice and various horticultural and industrial crops commodities. Kenya continues to import large quantities of both fresh and processed horticultural products to meet the high demand for local consumption. In addition, 95% of the country's vegetable oils and 50% of fibre requirements are met through imports. In this regard, generation of technologies to accelerate productivity, value addition and enhancement of competitiveness in the sub sector is necessary in meeting the local demand and tapping into regional and international market opportunities. The future thrusts of the crop thematic area of research include effective application of biotechnological techniques among others to address hasten the pace of crop improvement, value addition, food safety and solving difficult 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.
Conduct, Promote, streamline, co-ordinate and regulate research with objective to generate and disseminate crop information, technologies, knowledge and services that respond to client demands, for sustainable livelihoods.