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Local NGO to partner with KALRO to produce amaranth seeds

Ripple Effect Organisation will partner with the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO) to produce amaranth seeds for commercial purposes.

Speaking during an agricultural field day for Amaranth growers in Kakrao Ward-Suna Migori, Ripple Effect Kenya Director Titus Sagala said that Amaranth, a vegetable crop, is a climate-smart ecological crop that has performed well in Migori County.

Amaranthus is a multicultural group of species and perennial plants that are short-lived, and some of its species are cultivated as leaf vegetables.

Sagala said that the plant, which was introduced two years ago in Kakrao and West Kanyamkago Wards in Migori County has done well compared to other parts of the country.

Already the Amaranthus growers in the two wards are reaping the benefits of planting vegetable crops through value addition. The vegetable crop grains are being used to produce flour that is rich in nutrients and diet as compared to other flour products.

Amaranth has started to gain popularity as a health food in recent years because of its many micronutrients and anti-inflammatory properties. The crop grains are rich in fibre and protein, as well as many important micronutrients that make them a good source of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and iron.

Through the assistance of Ripple Effect NGO, the amaranth growers from the two wards have been empowered to grow amaranth for commercial purposes. The groups supported by the NGO have been able to add value to their amaranth by producing amaranth flour. The flour is rich in proteins and vitamins and is currently retailed in various local supermarkets and retail shops after acquiring Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) certification.

Ripple Effect Field Officer Boaz Nyaoro said that the certification from the Kenya Bureau of Standards has become the biggest blessing for the amaranth growers because the product can be value-added; widening the market links within the South Nyanza Region.

He said the amaranth grains that make the flour have become a major source of income for the growers where different flour products like amaranth pure, amaranth mix (sorghum and millet), and amaranth cassava have hit the retail stores and supermarket shelves in Migori County.

Joseph Ochieng, an amaranth grower and resident of Kakrao Ward in Suna East Sub County said that Ripple Effect organisation has assisted the community to join two cooperatives, namely the Pamoja Suna East Cooperative Society and the Suna East Cooperative that link them to various markets in the county.

Ochieng, who has a quarter of an acre under cultivation acknowledged that the cash flow from value addition is worth it as compared to planting normal vegetable varieties that are highly perishable.

Ochieng encouraged residents to embrace new modern farming enterprises to reap profits and grow economically.

By Geoffrey Makokha

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