Agritech boost for Kenyan finger millet – ‘superfood’ and key to smallholder sustainability
Finger millet grain is highly nutritious. It is favoured by and recommended to breastfeeding mothers and is also often fortified with other grain as a supplementary food for children and the elderly. However, due to low yields and poor-quality crops from a wide-spread and subsistence level producer base, demand regularly outstrips supply.
Through a purpose-built, precision farming platform, up to 2000 farmers in the Busia and Siaya regions of Western Kenya will participate in a game-changing collaborative agri-tech project led by experts at UK Agri-EPI Centre, Harper Adams University, Nairobi-based Strathmore University, agronomic services provider Newscape Agro Systems and technical services provision company USOMI.
Kenyan finger millet is typically grown by smallholder farmers that face a range of challenges. Not easily able to access agronomic services, they are prey to low yields producing poor quality grain that doesn’t meet market quality requirements. The remote and marginal regions in which millet is grown also lead to a fragmented grower base, which is uneconomic to service. The combination of these issues often means smallholder millet farmers typically operate on a subsistence basis.