News / Africa

Drought Tolerant Crops Can Stave Off Hunger and Malnutrition

Sorghum, pearl millet, chickpea, pigeon pea and groundnut are nutritious, drought-resistant crops

Kim Lewis

A crop research group says farmers in East Africa can benefit from growing five drought-resistant crops

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) says sorghum, pearl millet, chickpea, pigeonpea and groundnut will provide food on a long-term basis, thus improving farmers’ resilience, nutrition and livelihoods.

“These are crops that have been tested in the dry areas and there are different types and different duration groups, according to Said Silim, ICRISAT’s director for eastern and southern Africa. “Basically, it is getting access to improved seed.  The most common way is either through the national systems providing seeds, or they (farmers) get them from neighboring farmers or through the private sector.”

Woman selects pigeon-pea varieties in Kenya
Woman selects pigeon-pea varieties in Kenya

Silim said demonstrations are required to show farmers how these crops can do well under drought conditions.

This is good news for women in particular, Silim explained. “Our crops are basically what we call women’s crops because they are not real cash crops.”

He said in crisis situations such as the Horn of Africa is experiencing now, not only is emergency food provided but vouchers are distributed.

With vouchers farmers are able to go to “agro-dealers,” people who sell farm inputs in the areas where the farmers live, and exchange the vouchers for seeds or fertilizer.

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