poor quality semen, uncertified seed, low-rate seedlings, adulterated or cheap quality livestock feed, and high cost of inputs are challenges that Kenyan farmers face constantly. In addition, is the lack of adequate extension services to advise them on best practices

But this need not be the case. There is a ‘big brother’ that farmers can rely on – the Agricultural Development Corporation of Kenya (ADC). It is a name that rings a bell in many people’s minds, but few know or understand its diverse and crucial roles

For some, it is the go-to for seed potato, others for quality bulls, while others know it as a government body with sprawling lands and nothing else. But ADC does that and more. Apart from being the main seed grower in Kenya, the organisation is also the custodian of the national livestock studs, and offers extension services and support to farmers.

Being a government body mandated to provide quality products, it strives to ensure that the seed maize, seed potatoes, beef products, dairy products, AI Services, animal feeds and citrus fruits are of the highest quality.

“ADC offices are countrywide – Nairobi, Molo, Malindi and Kitale. Visit them because a lot of help lies behind those doors,” Dr Maurice Cherogony, the Regional Manager ADC, Kitale, advises farmers, while explaining ADC-Kitale’s role.

“We provide extension services to farmers and productivity has improved because of this,” he says adding that the station produces many of Kenya’s agricultural inputs like hybrid seeds, pedigree livestock, semen, and feeds.

“Initiatives like the new semen centre are making AI, Genomics, and embryo transfer  technologies available at affordable prices to smallholder farmers,” says Dr Muchemi Kariuki , who has previously been at the helm of Central AI Station (CAIS) currently Kenya Animal Genetics Resources Centre (KAGRC). 

“Whatever problems farmers are facing we can help,” adds Dr Cherogony who is determined to turn ADC-Kitale Region, into a referral hub for seed, feed, citrus, and dairy breeding. We recently visited ADC Kitale to learn more about their activities.

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Quality semen 

If you have been wondering where to get affordable, quality semen, wonder no more, ADC Semen Production Centre (Endebees) has it. For years, Kenya has relied on Kenya Animal Genetics Resources Centre (KAGRC), Kabete, for a quality product, but in mid-2018 ADC started operations.

The facility located in Endebees, Kitale, is home to 30 bulls with 19 more expected from South Africa. With 70 per cent of the animals in Kenya being serviced by bulls and AI intake among rural farmers being low, the importance of this centre, is clear. “We hope to change this statistic through our work at the centre,” says Dr Musee Kathoka, assistant unit manager, ADC Semen Production Centre

The centre uses a computer assisted semen analyser (CASA) and digitalised freezers that guarantee high quality semen is collected. 

“We will also offer advanced genomics technologies at subsidised prices soon. Production of sexed semen is on trial and multiple embryo transfer is available on demand,” Dr Kathoka adds.

To get bulls, ADC partners with professional breeders and uses a contract Mating Program. Only animals with good records up to the fourth generation are selected and ADC provides semen to breed. The breeders keep the heifers while ADC takes the bulls. At three months the bulls are taken to the centre and quarantined at the pre-quarantine facility for another month. 

“The bio-security here is tight. One infection can paralyse the centre’s activities for a year or more. We have double fences and isolation areas, and only authorised personnel come into contact with the animals,” he tells us. 

Good quality feed “We produce high-quality feeds for cows, pigs, chicken, and dogs at all stages and at competitive prices,” says Mr Stephen Thuo, manager ADC Feed-mill, which consists of a feed-mill, drier, and a laboratory

The lab establishes the nutritional values of raw materials to ensure balanced formulations. Whole maize is used instead of maize germ, which guarantees that the feeds surpass the required levels of energy, crude protein, crude fiber and crude oils, and that moisture content is at 12 per cent

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“Raw materials bought from external suppliers are analysed at the lab and are tested again to confirm quality upon delivery,” adds Mr Thuo. The machines process two tonnes of feed per hour and packs them in bags of five, 10, 50, and 70 kilos.

Feeds are available countrywide at selected stockists and at most Kenya Farmers Association (KFA) outlets. Bulk orders can be supplied directly to farmers, dairy cooperatives, and feed stockists.

Good quality seed The waiting list for certified seeds is always long, yet the planting season waits for no farmer. Thus, players who can produce quality certified seeds are always welcome in the sector

“Six years ago, our mandate expanded from growing seed for sister company Kenya Seed Company to growing, producing, and marketing ADC’s own certified seeds under the ADC brand,” says Dr Cherogony

ADC’s seed operations ensure that the country never runs out of seed and that they are available to farmers at reasonable prices.

“We have dedicated over 12,000 acres of land to seed production and propagation. Our seeds are available countrywide at appointed ADC seed agents and quality is guaranteed,” notes Dr Cherogony.

Thorough research has ensured production of fast-growing, disease-resistant seeds suited to different regions that can withstand the prevailing harsh environmental conditions.

“ADC seeds are genetically pure, true to type, high-yielding, and free from the most serious diseases and pests. This ensures that farmers get good harvests and save on chemicals and pesticides,” says Mr Ahmed Sheikh Mohamud, ADC Seed Unit Manager. 

Bean seed varieties such as the ADC Rosecoco (KK 194 ), ADC Malkia bean (KK 16 ), and Red bean are fast-growing, high-yielding, and resistant to most bean diseases. 

Mr Vincent Kimaiyo Chenunu, a small-scale farmer in Namadala has planted Rosecoco 194 and Malkia KK16 and is pleased with the outcome. “The beans grow fast and have resisted the diseases that I previously dealt with. I have saved a lot on pesticides and chemicals and expect to harvest more than usual because they are high yielding,” says Mr Chenunu

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 Allan Njoroge, a technical offi cer on crops believes ADC’s importance within the country is immeasurable. “We produce 50 per cent of all certifi ed maize and bean seeds. The country would suffer if we ceased operations,” he says. 

Collaborations with organisations like KEPHIS, Cymmit, KALRO, FAO, County governments, ministries, ASK, KFA and AGRA have helped the government institution scale services. In the pipeline is a modern processing plant that will further improve seed production. 

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