Nairobi, Kenya: The Government has spent Sh180 million to purchase and distribute improved traditional seeds for planting in selected arid and semi-arid areas.

The Ministry of Agriculture through its initiation, Traditional High Value Crops programme, has distributed a total of 517 Metric Tonnes (MT) of assorted drought tolerant crop seeds, 1.592 million cassava cuttings and 2.4 million sweet potatoes, all worth Sh104 million to identified counties.

“The seeds and planting materials, sourced from Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, will be distributed to 99 districts spread out in 31 counties in all regions except Nairobi,” said Agriculture Minister Sally Kosgei on Tuesday during the flagging off ceremony in their offices.

The planting materials will go to ten counties in Rift Valley, three in Eastern, four in Central, five in North Eastern, five in Nyanza, two in Western and five in Coast region.

Subsidised prices

Dr Kosgei said the ministry would additionally deliver 516 tonnes of beans, green grams, cowpeas, Irish potatoes, and sorghum seeds amounting to Sh74 million to the districts most affected by the Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease.

“These seeds will be sold to the farmers at highly subsidised prices through the National Cereals and Produce Board depots near the districts,” she said.

She said the ministry, since its inception of the programme in 2006, has spent more than Sh1.4 billion to benefit over 2.5 million farmers in over 101 districts.

“The programme has distributed a total of 5,420 MT of assorted drought tolerant seeds, 15,404,329 sweet potato vines and 15,939,110 cassava cuttings,” she said.

Kosgei said the progarmme has seen a tremendous increase in production and change in attitude towards the crops in the targeted areas.

“This has led to improved availability and access to quality seeds, food and consequently improved household food security and nutrition and living standards,” said Kosgei.

She was accompanied by her Permanent Secretary Dr Romano Kiome, who expressed deep concern in poor land preparation for the planting season.

Kiome said they would start by distributing the seeds to those underprivileged and those who did not get them last year then move in to cover other farmers in the respective areas.

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