Eastern Africa Grain Council pushes for pulse farming to boost food output

KENYA – The Eastern Africa Grain Council is seeking to promote farming of pulses such as beans, peas, green grams and lentils to boost food production in the region, reports Business Daily.

EAGC said pulses take shorter periods and have higher returns compared to maize which has lately been threatened by pests including armyworms.

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“On average, a 90-kg bag of pigeon peas and green grams are fetching US$84.09 to US$89.04 in the market compared to the same quantity of maize that is going for US$12.86 way below production cost,” executive director Gerald Masila told farmers last week during the Meru Agri-business Expo.

As part of the campaign, EAGC has entered into a partnership with 22 counties to organise exhibitions in a bid encourage farmers cultivate pulses, deemed to be more profitable.

According to the grain body, a farmer would require an average of 25kg of seed and 30-50kg of DAP fertiliser per acre to produce the crops.

“We are working with the county governments to boost production in the coming year, to achieve food security and create prosperity through trade and value addition,” said Mr Masila.

The joint efforts would ensure promotion of grains and pulses production, post-harvest handling and marketing by exposing farmers to best agronomic practices, innovations and technologies.

Speaking on the development, Meru crop development director Phyllis Mutungi indicated that the 100 metric tonnes of green gram seeds distributed to farmers during the planting season had stabilised food situation as they have surplus yields for sale.

Cutting overreliance on maize

The initiative also seeks to reduce overreliance on maize which has threatened food security in Kenya, where climate change among other factors have threatened its production.

A study by Bayesian Consulting Group shows that lack of seed crops other than maize, together with financial challenges have hindered efforts to fight climate change through crop diversification.

Maize harvests in Kenya average at about 1.6 metric tonnes per hectare, lagging behind the global average of 5.6 metric tons.

On the other hand, Kenya produces 800,000 metric tonnes of pulses annually, 20% of which is exported to regional and global markets.

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