Cassava is ideal for production and provision of carbohydrates in the marginal and drought-prone areas, which comprise about 80% of Kenya. However, its potential utilisation as a food security crop remains low in these areas. A major constraint to cassava production is lack of adequate disease and pest-free planting materials greatly exacerbated by its low multiplication rate. The Kenya Agricultural Research Institute Katumani Centre has established cassava agronomic demonstrations, multiplication and distribution programmes. 18,000 cuttings of cassava cultivars, KME 990005, KME 990132, Ex-Mariakani and MM96_5280, were used to establish six multiplication and demonstration plots in the semi-arid Mutomo district in Kitui County. Cultivar MM96_5280 performed significantly better than the others, had a good stay-green ability, high tolerance to drought, cassava mosaic and brown streak virus diseases, and was vigorous.
Keywords: cassava, food security crop, climate change, adaptation, semi-arid, food deficit areas