It is a sunny afternoon as we take a walk at Elizabeth Kwamboga’s (not her real name) farm in Kisii County. The one-acre farm full of healthy-looking green finger millet plants ready to yield is a manifestation that the crop is gaining popularity in the country, especially from western region.
Ms. Kwamboka reveals to us that the healthy-green looking finger millet plants, grown up to knee-high and almost to her waist, comes from 1 kilogram of finger millet improved variety of seeds she bought from the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) at a cost of Kshs.100 only.
“I followed the farming practices as directed by KALRO, after which I bought 1 kg of finger millet and my produce has given me Kshs.32, 000,” said Kwamboka.
She adds that her life has turned to be that of ‘a happy farmer’ after the finger millet produce changed her living standards by boosting her income revenue and improved food security in the region.
Kwamboka’s Finger Millet farm in Kisii County. Image|Courtesy
Kisii County KALRO Director Chrispus Oduori affirms that the improved variety of finger milled seeds have improved farmers yields in the recent past, with 1 kg of the seeds planted on an acre giving up to 10 bags compared to 5 bags as before.
“Finger millet is a nutritious cereal from which you can get very good mineral supply, quality protein and we have so far released 6 varieties to farmers,” said Mr. Oduori.
Through the Kenya Climate Smart Agricultural project, KALRO takes the initiative of educating Kenyans on proper finger millet farming and newly improved variety of seedlings.
The initiative takes place in areas of western, Nyanza and rift valley, where rainy conditions are warm/cold, and moderate/low resulting to early maturity of up to 3-5 months.
Among the improved varieties released by KALRO in the regions include the P-224 and Gulu-E which are less susceptible to finger millet blast disease, produce high yields and easy to thresh, especially the Gulu-E variety.
Finger Millet is good for infant feeding, special dishes for the sick and for special purposes among Kenyan population.