Kenya Agricultural Biotechnology Support Program
What is the Kenya Agricultural Biotechnology Support Program?
The Kenya Agricultural Biotechnology Support Program (KABSP) is a program of the USAID-funded Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI). KARI promotes agricultural research to promote food security through scientifically improved productivity and environmental conservation. KARI manages more than 20 research centers throughout Kenya. KABSP conducts research on crop and livestock diseases, livestock nutrition, pests, drought, soil composition, and plant and animal genetics to advance early diagnosis of diseases, increase the availability of disease-free plant materials, and boost agricultural production.
Project Duration and Budget
December 2009 – March 2012
Who implements the Kenya Agricultural Biotechnology Support Program?
Kenya Agricultural Research Institute
Where does the Kenya Agricultural Biotechnology Support Program work?
Eastern Province: Kitui, Meru
Rift Valley: Kajiado, Narok, Baringo, East Pokot
What does the Kenya Agricultural Biotechnology Support Program do?
KABSP research enhances and sustains Kenya’s rich and diverse plant and animal resources and boosts the livelihoods of Kenya’s rural populations through application of new science-based technologies.
KABSP research programs include:
- Food crops research on cereals, root and tuber crops, legumes to develop varieties resistant and tolerant to drought, pests, and diseases
- Biotechnology research to improve staple crops like maize and livestock, including development of livestock vaccines and diagnostic kits
- Industrial and fodder crop research to yield pest-resistant, scientifically improved varieties
- Soil additive research to improve nitrogen and phosphorus content
- Core research to develop improved technologies for food security in agricultural areas with limited rainfall
How is the Kenya Agricultural Biotechnology Support Program making a difference?
KABSP research aims to address agricultural production constraints that cannot be addressed through conventional agricultural methods. KABSP biotechnology tools include:
• Five animal diagnostic kits developed and released for use by farmers, veterinarians
• Hybrid varieties resistant to Grey Leaf Spot released and enhancing yields of up to 7 tons/hectare, compared to 6.3 tons/hectare previously
• East Coast Fever vaccine available to farmers and veterinarians reduces the cost of ECF treatment from 4,500 Kshs/cow to 1,500 Kshs/cow
• Tissue culture for disease-free propagation of priority crops such as banana, potato, sweet potato, cassava, and macadamia is in development
• Nutrition of food crops improved through enhanced vitamin and protein content
What key challenges does the Kenya Agricultural Biotechnology Support Program face?
KABSP research addresses the low productivity of crops and livestock, climate change, crop and livestock diseases, poor livestock nutrition, pests, drought, and poor soil quality. Ongoing protests by anti-biotechnology groups to the acceptance of genetically modified food products delay progress in biotech advances.
The Kenya Agricultural Biotechnology Support Program in action
Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia (CCPP) is a severe infectious disease that strikes goats in parts of Africa, including Kenya. CCPP is extremely contagious, frequently fatal, and often eludes diagnosis. It poses a major threat to goat herds and thus to the economic stability of goat farmers. Rapid diagnosis is key to containment of the disease.
In 2011, KABSP developed and packaged a rapid diagnostic test that allows farmers and livestock health practitioners to test animals in the field. Without knowledge of CCPP in years past, goat farmers in Mai Mahiu, Naivasha suffered severe losses in their herds.
KARI has made the CCPP diagnostic test available to Mai Maihu farmers, enabling them to intervene appropriately and swiftly as soon as signs of the disease appear. The diagnostic test is nothing short of a miracle in Mai Mahiu, with its promise of preventing livestock losses and promoting financial gain.