The East African staple threatened by drought – Journal du Cameroun

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Published on
15.11.2018 at 17h21
APA News

Ugali as a popular food in Kenya is being threatened by regular and prolonged drought which afflicts countries in the Horn of Africa region.Made from corn, it can be found all over East Africa including Kenya which shows it off to the rest of the world as her proud staple.

But since it’s made from corn, it has been found susceptible to drought and other effects of climate change.

This happened in 2017, when drought and other factors caused the price of corn—and ugali—to soar, provoking widespread distress.

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In response, many farmers in Kenya are planting indigenous and other vegetables that require less water—and earn higher returns.

Farmers in Kisumu are growing and selling indigenous ‘kunde’ (vigna unguiculata), night shade (gyandropsis gynandra) and ‘mitoo’ (crotalaria brevidens).

They also plant tomatoes and peppers and there are plans to add onions.

Rather than greenhouses, they’re using polyethene shade nets for sun protection.

Greenhouses start at $2,500.

A shade net costs $400.

The shade nets can also be installed using locally available materials and readily tailor-made to the farmers’ specifications.

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Greenhouses are standardized, which can result in farmers paying for more product than they need.

Produce grown under the shade nets requires little water, especially when compared to that needed by corn.

On average, a farmer in the program harvests 60 crates of tomatoes and 40 crates of peppers per season.

One crate of tomatoes sells for $15 to $28.

Peppers go for $10-$40 per crate.

Thus, farmers earn between $875 and $2,218 for tomatoes and between $389 and $1,557 for peppers.

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This is three times what they normally receive when they plant and sell corn.

The next step, with planning underway, is to connect these farmers to supermarkets in nearby towns such as Kisumu, Sondu and Ahero.

This will ensure they can sell and profit from their surplus production.

Farmers’ success in Kisumu is a good example of how climate resilience and increased income can go hand in hand.


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