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The Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) has developed a hybrid finger millet variety in Kenya that is drought- and disease-resistant

Kenya ICRISAT HOPE FingerMilletMore than 30,000ha of finger millet varieties cover the western region of Kenya. (Image source: ICRISAT HOPE)

Finger millet is among other crops such as cassava and sorghum that are being abandoned by many farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, which has led researchers to develop the new hybrid variety, according to KARI’s Kakamega Station senior principal researcher, Chrispus Oduori.

“The new hybrid is high-yielding and has minimal cost of production as it is tolerant to dry weather and resistant to diseases,” observed Oduori.

Oduori added that the hybrid finger millet is weed tolerant compared to traditional finger millet varieties.

More than 30,000ha in the western region of the country are under finger millet, Oduori revealed, highlighting the huge economic contribution to the region.

Nationally, more than 65,000ha are under the crop, although production has remained dismally low, he said.

Researchers also noted that the hybrid matures faster, taking three to three-and-a-half years compared to indigenous varieties that take longer.

Mwangi Mumero