NAIROBI, April 25 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's ministry of agriculture on Tuesday launched several drought resistant and high yielding crop varieties to be deployed in 21 arid and semi arid counties where hunger and malnutrition is rampant.
Principal Secretary for Livestock, Andrew Tuimur said the drought tolerant crops including beans, green grams, cassava and grain amaranth will be distributed to an estimated 10 million smallholder farmers in dry regions.
"Food and nutrition security is a major challenge in arid and semi arid zones, hence the need to accelerate adoption of drought tolerant varieties developed in our research stations," Tuimur said in Nairobi.
The new drought tolerant crop varieties and technologies to fight livestock diseases were developed through a five year arid and semi arid lands agricultural productivity research project (ASAL-APRP) funded by the European Union.
Tuimur said Kenya and its bilateral partners have prioritized financing of research and innovations that would strengthen climate resilient farming practices.
"Application of novel technologies and innovations by farmers will boost their resilience to harsh weather phenomenon linked to climate change. It will offer food and income security to these farmers," said Tuimur.
Kenya has enacted policies while increasing budgetary allocation to boost research on improved dry land crops like cassava, sorghum and millet.
At the same time, research agencies have been promoting adoption of indigenous livestock and chicken that are more resistant to extreme weather events in a bid to boost food security in semi arid regions.
Director General of Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organization (KARLO), Eliud Kireger said rapid deployment of drought and disease tolerant seeds are key to shielding communities in arid regions from hunger and malnutrition.
"We have developed improved crop varieties suited for arid areas and their deployment will reduce communities' vulnerability to food insecurity," said Kireger.
He added that improved natural resources management and value addition will boost agricultural productivity in Kenya's arid counties.