Development of Climate-smart Grass Varieties for Reseeding the ASALS

Climate Smart Grass Varieties Research Activity

Research Centre: KALRO Kiboko

Principal Researcher: Dr. Everlyne Kirwa

Research Background:

Inadequate feed resources continue to be a big constraint to livestock production, particularly in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) of Kenya. One of the main challenges to increasing feed resources in the ASALs is the unavailability of certified seeds. This has paved the way for informal seed systems of wild grass ecotypes. The only way to improve seed availability and increase fodder production is through the development and release of certified seed that can be traded in formal seed markets.

Under ASAL Agricultural Productivity Research Project (ASAL APRP), four promising grass ecotypes lines were identified for further evaluation and release. The ecotypes are droughttolerant, have high leafy biomass, and are palatable and nutritious to livestock. Besides yield trials, the project sought to establish tolerance levels of these ecotypes to grazing and water scarcity, their nutritional quality, and their seed production traits. The following sub-activities are being implemented.

Research Objectives:

  1. Evaluation and selection of promising ecotypes for desirable traits (high yield, drought tolerance, palatability, and nutrition).
  2. National performance trials and Distinctness, Uniformity, and Stability (DUS) tests.
  3. On-station feeding trials.
  4. Seed bulking.
  5. Registration and release of varieties.
  6. Commercialization of newly released climate smart rangelands grass varieties.
  7. Refurbish pasture research irrigation facilities at KALRO Kiboko.


  • The 3 grass ecotypes (2 Cenchrus ciliaris ecotypes and 1 Enteropogon macrostachyus) underwent national performance trial and Distinctiveness, Uniformity and Stability by KEPHIS. The 3 varieties were gazetted by NVRC in Kenya Gazette notice, fully registered. The varieties are undergoing certification process by KEPHIS for commercialization.