Project 1: Legume Breeding – Introduction

Kenya continues to grapple with chronic food and nutrition insecurity particularly in the rural areas. Over the years, agricultural research has been conducted in the country by the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and various universities. Most of the research has been donor-funded and has concentrated on the cereals (maize, wheat, sorghum) with very little attention devoted to research on pulses which are nutritionally superior. The little research that has been conducted on pulses has concentrated on increasing yield and improving resistance to insect pests and diseases using conventional plant breeding approaches, which take a long time before a new variety is developed and released. Moreover, the plant breeders have not addressed quality aspects of the pulses such as cooking time, flatulence and anti-nutritional content. In addition, the plant breeders have utilized limited biotechnological approaches in their research. Consequently, only a few improved pulse varieties have been released in the country, and those few, have been developed without consideration of enhancement of quality traits.

 

At university level, The Horticulture department and the Institute of Biotechnology Research (IBR) are faced with human and infrastructural constraints that make them unable to effectively carry out their research and training activities. Postgraduate training is low leading to low staff/student ratio. On the other hand, physical infrastructures are over stretched due to the high student numbers and most of the equipment is old.