Kenyan President Kenyatta headlines conference at ILRI Nairobi on innovations in Kenya’s agricultural sector
The session was notable also for the official launch by US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec of a second five-year phase of the Feed the Future Kenya Country Plan, worth USD115 million (KES11.5 billion).The conference was held to reflect on the achievements and to consider the future of Accelerated Value Chain Development (AVCD), a USD25 million project in Kenya funded by the USAID-supported Feed the Future initiative and implemented by a consortium of CGIAR institutes, led by ILRI together with the International Potato Center (CIP) and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). Altogether, the program has so far helped some 360,000 households in Kenya, according to Romano Kiome, AVCD’s chief of party.More than 400 people participated in the conference. Guests included representatives from national government, county governments, implementing partners, sub-grantees, selected beneficiaries, partnering projects and the Kenya development donor community—as well as high-level representatives from the national government and diplomatic corps.Two Samburu women perform a role-playing skit at the AVCD national conference (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).The two-day event included panel discussions addressing the role of science and technology in agricultural development; activities designed to identify collaborative opportunities for stakeholders and partners, including staff of the AVCD program; and role-playing skits by Samburu women meant to show how information about the programs is disseminated at the local level.The AVCD program works to unlock the economic potential of Kenya’s smallholder farmers and pastoralists and covers 21 counties throughout Kenya. The program approaches smallholder farming as a business—rather than simply a livelihood or survival strategy—and targets bottlenecks in the value chain with technical and financial innovations developed by CGIAR research institutes and their partners, such as the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO). The goal is to competitively and sustainably increase productivity and thereby contribute to inclusive agricultural growth and nutrition and food security.
‘That no Kenyan goes hungry is one of the main focus areas of my administration in this my second term’, the president said.
He praised ILRI and its partner research institutions for developing technologies and innovations that ‘can rapidly transform agriculture to be more productive, thereby providing gainful employment to our people.’
In addition to President Kenyatta, US Ambassador Robert Godec, Cabinet Secretary of the Kenya Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation Mwangi Kiunjuri, and ILRI Director General Jimmy Smith, all spoke at the plenary opening. (A livestreamed Twitter video of remarks made by Ambassador Godec, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Kiunjuri and President Kenyatta is here and additional photos of the event are here.)Fodder production in Busia and Vihiga counties, Kenya (photo credit: AVCD/FIPS/Raymond Jumah).Dairying in Siaya County, Kenya (photo credit: AVCD/FIPS/Raymond Jumah).Accelerated livestock breeding in Busia and Kisumu counties, Kenya (photo credit: left by AVCD/FIPS/Raymond Jumah, right by ILRI/Muthoni Njiru).Pastoralism in Wajir County, Kenya (photo credit: ILRI/Riccardo Gangale).From top to bottom: The USAID Feed the Future Accelerating Value Chain Development (AVCD) project works in Kenya to improve smallholder agricultural value chains. For the livestock sector, this includes better livestock fodder (Napier and Brachiaria) production, feeding and marketing; improved dairy production and marketing; accelerated livestock breeding through artificial insemination; vaccination programs protecting cattle against infectious disease; and enhancing the production and marketing of pastoralist ruminant animals in the country’s northern drylands.The AVCD program focuses on several key agricultural value chains: root crops, dairy, livestock and drought-resistant staple crops. Innovations in each case vary. For example:
In the two and a half years since it began, AVCD has met or exceeded nearly all of its initial objectives, said Iain Wright, ILRI’s deputy director general for integrated sciences.
- Thirty thousand households in eastern Kenya are growing an improved potato variety thanks to a distribution program that last year produced 392 tons of potato seeds for market.
- The orange-fleshed sweetpotato, once considered a smallholder ‘woman’s crop’, is being marketed for its nutritive value and infused into products such as bread and cookies sold in Nairobi supermarkets.
- In northern Kenya, nearly sixty thousand pastoralist households have been reached with an array of programs, including a mobile app that provides livestock disease surveillance and market reports. The app is credited with helping to stop the spread of foot-and-mouth disease in Garissa County.
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