NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
The International Maize and Wheat
Improvement Center (CIMMYT) said on Wednesday it will promote
wheat farming in Kenya in order to help the east African nation
reduce its food imports, officials said.
Africa regional representative at (CIMMYT), told Xinhua in
Nairobi that Kenya, like many sub-Saharan countries, is facing
rising demand for wheat products such as bread while local
production has stagnated or is declining.
"We will encourage small scale farmers in highlands,
mid-potential areas and dry land areas to take up wheat
cultivation so that Kenya can save the foreign currency that it
uses to import the cereal," Mugo said.
According to government data, Kenya produced 165,200 tons of
wheat in 2017, down from 214,700 tons in 2016. The Economic
Survey 2018 also indicates that Kenya imported 1.86 million tons
of wheat in 2017.
CIMMYT has already established a nursery in Kenya to screen
for wheat stem rust which is one of the most common disease
affecting the cereal.
Mugo said that wheat cultivation was introduced in Kenya as a
large scale crop, hence the low uptake of wheat production among
small scale farmers in the country.
"We have now developed technology for small scale farmers to
grow wheat profitably," he added.
Mugo noted that with the right agronomic practices Kenyan
farmers can increase their wheat yield from the current average
of two tons per hectare to six tons per hectare.
CIMMYT also urged Kenya to prioritize wheat cultivation as
rising incomes and urbanization rates will increase demand for
the cereal crop going forward.