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Food Security: Kenya Kicks Off a National Cassava Revolution

Kenya to host National Cassava Conference to enhance productivity

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Kenya is set to host the National Cassava Conference and Expo 2023 (NCCE) aimed at enhancing cassava production, productivity and value-addition. The trade fair themed Spearheading Innovation and Technology for Cassava Sector will help in creating positive public awareness for cassava in food and nutrition security as well as a catalyst for socio and economic development.

The conference led by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD), and Self Help Africa in collaboration with European Union and other key development organizations, will be held on the 24th – 26th of October, 2023 at the Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi.

Self Help Africa Country Director, Mr Jo Ryan, says enhanced cassava production in Kenya will save billions of Kenya shillings spent annually to import staple food produce and products for consumption and industrial use that could be retained in the country for social and economic development projects.

“There is a need for consistent promotion across the country through cassava forums, trade fairs and exhibitions, considering its resilience to moisture stress, higher productivity per hectare over cereal crop farming and importance in food & nutrition security,” said Mr Ryan.

The conference will provide a learning platform for local, regional and international cassava value chain players, who will also showcase and demonstrate latest technologies, products, service as well as examine recent market trends and trade opportunities.

“It will also provide a platform that will facilitate the establishment of linkages that increase investment in the cassava value chain through a combination of government partnerships and private sector engagement,” he said.

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Cassava is the second most important root crop after Irish potato grown throughout Kenya. It is a drought-tolerant crop providing a basic diet for most rural households to address food insecurity and mitigate poverty.

Production of cassava in Kenya is mostly concentrated in a few agricultural ecological zones that include Western Kenya, Coast and Eastern zones. In these regions, cassava accounts for a greater percentage of the total cassava production in the country.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, about 60% of cassava in Kenya is produced in the western region, 10% in eastern, and 30% in Coast. Kenya currently produces 1 million tonnes of cassava, most of which is consumed locally, but the country has the potential to produce more than 3 million tonnes annually.

It is the fourth most important food crop in the world after maize, wheat and rice.

Mr Mithika Linturi, cabinet secretary for Agriculture, says food security has been challenged by the impact of climate change such as the emergence of new pests and diseases such as fall army worms and Maize Lethal Necrotic Disease hence the need for a reliable and sustainable solution.

Cassava plays a very important role in the economies of many countries and is a good carbohydrate source. Cassava is a good source of dietary fibre as well as vitamin C, thiamin, folic acid, manganese, and potassium. It is the fourth most important food crop in the world after maize, wheat and rice.

Kenya in 2019 developed the National Roots and Tuber Strategy to guide the development and production of the crop for industrial use in particular. It identifies tuber crops as an important source of food for humans and livestock, especially as climate change effects unfold.

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KALU MENGOhttp://www.businesstoday.co.ke
Kalu Mengo is a Senior Reporter With Business Today. Email: [email protected]
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