Farmers in the coast region are receiving hybrid coconut seedlings from the Nuts and Oil Crops Directorate (NOCD) to boost production.
Once known as the Kenya Coconut Development Authority (KCDA), the directorate is mandated to develop, promote and regulate the nuts and oil crops industry in the country.
Head of the NOCD directorate, Raymond Kahindi on Tuesday told KNA in an interview that the hybrid seedling distribution initiative is aimed at boosting production and value addition.
Kahindi noted the coconut sector is constrained by lack of adequate research, poor agronomical practices, lack of appropriate and affordable technology, exploitation by middlemen and lack of access to credit facilities by the smallholder farmers.
He said coconut small-scale growers are being encouraged to get involved in the growing of the horticulture crop and embrace sustainable agricultural practices and improve their livelihoods.
“We have put in place a string of measures to promote cultivation and enhance the production of coconuts and as we speak we have 100 farmers in Kilifi and Kwale counties who are getting hybrid seedlings we brought in from India,” he said.
He says farmers are also being encouraged to only cut down old and non-productive coconut trees to intensify production.
He said currently the coconut industry supports more than 150,000 households in the counties of Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi and Lamu with over 500,000 people deriving their incomes directly or indirectly from the industry.
According to NOCD the population of coconut trees is estimated at 10 million up from 7.5 million trees in 2007 owing to introduction of new varieties.
Coconut tree is a source of food, beverage, oil seed, fiber, timber and health products.
By Faith Mutonga/Hussein Abdullahi