Grow pulses to boost earnings, farmers urged

Smallholder farmers have been advised to increase production of pulses that have higher demand in local and international markets.

Pulses are edible seeds of plants in the legume family, including beans, cow peas, pigeon peas and dolichos.

According to the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC), an organisation that promotes production and marketing of grains, pulses mature fast and can be grown in many parts of the country, offering a solution to the current food crisis. 

Addressing the media in Meru town, EAGC executive director Gerald Masila said they were holding expositions across the country to promote production of pulses.

“We are working with our members, who include aggregators, to increase production of pulses. We want to reduce over-reliance on maize. Pulses are rich in protein, require little water to mature, and have no ecological barriers. They hold the key to food security and better living standards for farmers,” Mr Masila said.

Showcase technologies

He noted that some pulses sell at up to Sh15,000 per 90kg bag. Mr Masila said EAGC would hold a pulses trade fair in Meru in July to showcase technologies and to train farmers on how to access various markets.

During the expo, farmers and traders will have a chance to meet buyers from India.

He said handicaps to farming include shortage of certified seed, lack of information on pulses, and lack of a structured market.

Mr Masila noted that the country produces about 600,000 tonnes of pulses annually, which is below average.

The EAGC wants to link farmers to the fast growing Indian market due to its booming population of more than 1.2 billion people.

In 2015, India announced plans to import up to four million tonnes of pulses annually from Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia.

Consumption of pulses in India is expected to reach 30 million tonnes by 2025, up from 21 million tonnes in 2013.

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