Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) has raised red flag over high malnutrition level among children under the aged of five years in Busia County.
KALRO Muguga Centre Director Genetic, Resource, Research Institute Dr Victor Wasike said per every 1000 children aged five years and below 25 are malnourished.
Dr Wasike said the scenario has been occasioned by lack of knowledge in the consumption of underutilized fruits like Guavas, goose , Rasp and strawberries, Jack fruit (Ofene), and bread fruit.
Speaking at Busia Agricultural Training Centre on Monday while launching the distribution of over 10,000 seedlings for underutilized fruits, Dr Wasike said the ignored fruits are highly nutritious with guavas leading in iron needed for brain development in children.
“Many people have false notion that these fruits such as guavas, ofene and berries are for the poor. We want these fruits back and people to consume them. They restore nutritional value.
Lack of awareness regarding the importance of these fruits was the main contributing factor, thus the need to create awareness and encourage people to grow them,” he said.
Dr Wasike said any child from the age of conception to 1000 days window without essential vitamins, iron and calcium in the body will be incapacitated for good with no correction mechanism,” he said.
He said instead of consuming high highly nutritious indigenous crops some people go for supplements, hospitals or donors, adding that they are collaborating with the County Governments to provide scientific evidence.
County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture and Animal Resources Dr Moses Osia said they are targeting 600,000 seedlings to be distributed to farmers across the county in the next few months.
” Busia has a lot of potential to grow indigenous crops in large numbers. The County Government has given 20,000 more seedlings to support KALRO initiative,” he said, adding that the County will have a model farm for assorted indigenous fruits at ATC.
Those present at the launch included Chief Officer for Agriculture Richard Achiambo, KALRO Post harvest scientist Francis Wayua, County Director Communications and Publicity Winston Wafula and Chairman stakeholders ATC, Leonard Murwai.