More and more farmers are taking to chickpea cultivation in the dry highlands of Kenya during short rains, thanks to the Tropical Legumes II (TL II) project. Most farmers in the region have been practicing maize/wheat-legume relay cropping. Recently, however, they have started converting their lands to chickpea cultivation, which uses low moisture during short rains from October to February after the cereal harvest, and before the next long cropping season in March/April.

This was demonstrated at a recent field day organized by Egerton University, a partner of ICRISAT under the TL II project which is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes, held on 28 February at Njoro District attended by 115 farmers, of whom majority were women. Farmer representatives from Molo, Machakos, Garaba, Koibatek and Naivasha Districts joined the field day to exchange ideas with and learn from ICRISAT Nairobi and Egerton University scientists.

Chickpea recipes on display. Photos: ICRISAT

Chickpea recipes on display. Photos: ICRISAT

Farmers at a chickpea farm of the university during the field day.

Farmers at a chickpea farm of the university during the field day.

Areas where chickpea has gained popularity in Kenya include Koibatek, Bomet, Mbeere, Garaba, Mwea, Embuk, and Kerio valley. Major varieties grown are ICCV 00305, 00108 and ICCV 97126 and ICCV 92944.

At the field day, farmers appreciated the high productivity of improved variety Chania Desi 1 (ICCV 97105) and Kabuli Saina K1 (ICCV 95423). The farmers also received training on agronomic management of chickpea, insect and disease control, utilization and marketing. Several recipes including that of chickpea githeri (mix of maize and chickpea), mandazi, chapati, and cakes were introduced to the farmers.

Representatives from Faida Seeds Company, Ministry of Agriculture, East African Grain Council; seed distributors from Njoro and Nakuru; and Egerton University’s TL II chickpea team led by the Director of Research and Extension Prof Alfred Kibor, University Industry Liason officer Prof Rhoda Birech and Chickpea Project-Principal Investigator Dr Paul Kimurto took part in the event.

ICRISAT’s Dr Moses Siambi, Director, Eastern and Southern Africa, and Dr NVPR Ganga Rao, Senior Scientist – Breeding (Grain Legumes) joined in taking stock of the ongoing chickpea experiments and seed multiplication plots at the University’s experimental fields.

Adapted from ICRISAT Happenings