County pilots technology to increase potato seed

Potato seedlings
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The County Government of Nakuru in partnership with CIP -International Potato Center is piloting the rooted apical cuttings technology for producing potato seed.

Apical cuttings are an alternative to tubers in the production of potato seed. The County held an introductory training where more than 20 ward agricultural officers were trained on the new technology. They will become Trainer of trainers championing the technology in the county.

The technology is aimed at helping farmers to rapidly multiply their own seed at the household level to ensure continuous production of high-quality seed and potatoes in addition to addressing challenges of the scarcity of clean quality seed potato. Farmers are expected to use rooted apical cuttings as starter material for seed production as an alternative to certified seed.

According to Mr. Shadrak Nyawade of CIP, the process is driven by market demand saying there’s a need to embrace awareness through field demos, individual farmers, farm field schools among others. With the County having less than 5% quality seed, it aims at leveraging on the support of seed potato production through the rooted apical cutting technology, in turn, boosting capacity of the youth and local businesses.

The apical cuttings can be multiplied two to three times upon first planting then tubers are used for seed and one cutting can produce between 7 and 15 tubers. Although sold as clean seed, Mr. Nyawade cautions farmers to refrain from selling the seed purporting it to be certified seed.

Through the pilot, the County and CIP target 750 farmers in potato growing sub-counties. 22,500 cuttings of 6 different varieties- Shangi, Wanjiku, Konjo, Chulu, Nyota and Lenan will be distributed for the purposes of comparison and market demand.

Joseph Ndirangu from Mau Narok, Njoro Sub County, has been using apical cuttings to multiply potato seed and has distributed 9,000 cuttings to farmers from Molo and Mau Narok sub-counties since January.

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