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KALRO Launches Second Strategic Plan

The government focus is on promoting sustainable agricultural practices that increase crop yields, manage post-harvest losses, conserve natural resources, protect biodiversity, and mitigate climate change effects.

Dr. Kipronoh Ronoh, Principal Secretary, State Department for Agriculture said prioritizing development and dissemination of climate smart agricultural technologies such as introduction of drought tolerant crop varieties, implementing water efficient irrigation techniques, adopting integrated pest management strategies and mechanizing agricultural processes is therefore essential.

Dr. Ronoh was speaking today during the official launch of the 2nd Kenya Agricultural Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) Strategic plan 2023/24 – 2027/28 that is aligned to the government’s Bottom Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA).

The PS however said that despite extreme weather events, erratic climate patterns, and the adverse impacts of climate change, Kenya’s agriculture sector has demonstrated remarkable resilience contributing on average 22 percent of the country’s GDP annually.

KALRO DG Dr. Eliud Kireger explains a point to the PS State Department of Agriculture Dr. Kipronoh Ronoh how the new technologies work.

 

“ Agriculture plays a vital role in sustaining livelihoods, ensuring food security, and driving overall economic growth. By investing in climate-smart agriculture and mechanization, we can ensure that farmers are better equipped to adapt to changing environmental conditions and mitigate the impacts of climate change on crop production” , he said .

Kenya’s Food Systems , he noted, are in the middle of a Digital Revolution highlighting the need for access to technology and digital connectivity for all stakeholders in the sector for dissemination of real-time Agricultural information.

Digital agriculture, the PS added, significantly boosts crop productivity and resilience by empowering farmers to make informed decisions and improve their farming practices.

“Utilizing digital technologies is vital for advancing the shared objectives of ensuring food security, alleviating poverty, and promoting environmental sustainability.”, he said

He acknowledged the valuable contribution of KALRO in aligning its strategic plan with the government’s BETA noting that KALRO’s efforts to address climate change issues through the development of drought-tolerant varieties within the BETA value chains, as well as tackling emerging pests and diseases associated with climate change, are commendable.

“ I am pleased to recognize that KALRO’s strategic plan aims to prioritize the critical issue of addressing the shortage of quality seeds. By producing basic seeds for the BETA crops, KALRO is taking a proactive step towards ensuring the availability of certified seeds, which is essential for enhancing agricultural productivity and resilience”, Dr. Rono said .

Dr. Eliud Kireger,  Director General KALRO said the strategy key major areas will be  focused  on bolstering crop and livestock productivity and quality, advancing sustainable practices and technology in agriculture, and utilizing biotechnology for comprehensive development,

He added it will also be advancing knowledge dissemination and practical training centers, as well as fostering county-level innovation networks for crop and livestock development, enhance seed production, define research priorities for crop and livestock in the country and also create a funding framework for agricultural research.

Dr. Kireger explained that in order to implement the strategy in the period given, a total of Kshs 55 billion will be required.

“ We will be sourcing funding from allocation from the National Government, Grants and Contributions from Development Partners, Private Sector Partnerships,  through Collaborative Projects  and also Internally Generated Revenue”, he said

Between 2017-2022, Dr. Kireger said KALRO had already developed and released 109 crop varieties,  commercialized 47  varieties, distributed 69 million clean planting materials and produced 9,470 metric tons of basic and certified seeds.

“ In those five years, we have also developed  250 crop protection technologies, empowered farmers with climate-smart technologies for enhanced productivity and climate resilience and  developed 15 technologies to reduce postharvest losses and sustain productivity gains”, he added.

In the livestock sector, Dr. Kireger said they had distributed nationwide 657 dual-purpose cattle breeds, 655 sheep and goats, and over 1.7 million improved indigenous chicken

KALRO, he added  had also disseminated 13 improved livestock management practices and developed and released 29 new grass varieties, formulated 25 on-farm feed rations and developed a thermo stable Newcastle disease vaccine, as well as two medications for trypanosomiasis and deworming.

“We have also introduced beneficial insects; black soldier fly for feed, green bottle fly for medical use, stingless bees for honey, and bio control agents.  Launched silkworm-derived feed, constructed a milk processing plant, established a feed processing unit and increased hatchery capacity for KALRO improved indigenous chicken”, Dr. Kireger said

The DG acknowledged the government and the development partners whose funding and support he said have been pivotal for KALRO to achieve the milestone so far made while at the same time also appreciated national, regional and international strategic partnerships.

KALRO, a government body that streamlines the operations of the National Agricultural Research System (NARS) has 17 Research Institutes located across the country.

The Institutes are responsible for implementation of the organization’s research agenda through a network of 21 Research Centres and 34 Sub-Centres covering all the agro-ecological zones in Kenya.

By Wangari Ndirangu

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