Variety Characteristics and Production Guidelines of Traditional Food Crops

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D. R. Karanja
C.M. Githunguri
L. M’Ragwa
D. Mulwa
S. Mwiti
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Eastern, parts of Rift Valley and North Eastern are the main provinces constantly threatened by famine. Onyango (2006) have estimated that at any given time of the year 300,000 to 2,000,000 residents in these two provinces are receiving famine relief food. Unfortunately, Eastern and North Eastern provinces are major consumers of maize, which is not drought tolerant perse and hence does not perform well in these regions. About 80% of famine alarms are frequently raised in the arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) of Kenya. Unfortunately, these famines are ignored and frequent need for food relief occurs despite the fact that the these regions can support the growth of drought tolerant traditional food crops such as sorghum, millet, beans, cowpeas pigeon peas, mungbeans, cassava and sweetpotatoes. In addition, most traditional food crops, especially sorghum, millets, cassava and sweetpotatoes are perceived as poor people’s food. This has frustrated the national efforts to promote these crops as viable, commercially marketable foods. Hence, it is not a wonder that products from these crops are hardly stocked in major supermarkets. There should be deliberate and concerted efforts by all stakeholders involved in food production to promote the production of traditional food crops in the ASALs and their utilization nationally if the humiliating famine and relief are to become a thing of the past.
Variety, Characteristics and Production Guidelines of Traditional Food Crops