Search for alternative food security crops
The Roots and Tuber Crops Development Trust has said growing roots and tubers on a large scale can help to mitigate the impact of fall armyworms on food security and livelihoods.
Reports indicate that fall armyworms have attacked over 193 thousand hectares of crop land planted to maize in 22 districts across the country.
This is coming at a time the trust is mobilising farmers to form groups to meet the current demand for the crops [roots and tubers] in the country.
Chairperson of the trust, Jean Pankuku, pointed out that the market for root and tuber crops is huge in the country hence the move to unite farmers to meet the demand.
She, however, held reservations over a lack of warehousing facilities to keep the produce fresh as they are highly perishable.
“The only challenge is that we are dealing with produce that are highly perishable at the same time they are seasonal. So, the market varies according to the season and the problem is where the local processing companies are looking for those adding value to these crops.
“At the same time, because of the seasonality, it becomes difficult to attract investors because they cannot have the raw materials throughout the year,” Pankuku said.
She further said the country should focus on producing other crops in huge quantities, including roots and tubers, other than just growing maize to counter threats to the staple, maize.
“These crops are also food security crops so, when we have a challenge with maize, for example, which is our main staple, we can still maintain food security through crops like sweet potatoes and cassava,” Pankuku added.
The Ministry of Agriculture, has pointed out that it is already developing varieties that are high yielding for such crops to enhance production.
This is coming at a time agriculturalists are stressing on the need for the country to diversify the agriculture sector.