Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya on Monday flagged off 25 tons of Potato basic seeds for distribution to six counties for further multiplication. Basic seed is the seed produced under the highest level of genetic control to ensure the seed is genetically pure and accurately represents the variety characteristics identified by the breeder during variety selection.
According to Munya, this will improve food security and mitigate the effects of covid -19, which has been further exacerbated by floods and the locust invasion. “The potato value chain is projected to add 2,500 metric tons of certified potato into the national seed supply annually through this two-year project. This will be achieved through training of County Extension Staff
The counties to benefit from the seeds are; Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Bomet, Nyandarua, Nyeri and Taita Taveta where so far sixty staff have been trained. The CS also noted thte the training of the staff will emphasize on revitalizing seed production and distribution
The initiative will seek to benefit breeders is under the Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Project (KCSAP) which is being implemented by Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organization (KALRO).
Potato is the second most important crop after maize that is produced in 20 of the counties under varying socio-economic and climatic conditions. Potato farmers in these counties continue to face myriad of challenges leading to low output of an average production of 10 tons per hectare against a potential of 60 tons per hectare.
CS Munya also directed the institutions under the Ministry to focus further towards the Seedlings Initiative under the Social Corporate Responsibility (CSR) by increasing the number of seedlings for distribution. The target is to have more seeds distributed during the October, November, December rains. This is in addition to the ready seedlings that were to be distributed during the March, April, May rains and are being preserved in the stations.
KALRO also availed other planting materials of various food crops and livestock fodder that are mainly in KALRO Centres and/or Institutes. These planting materials include seedlings, seeds, seed cuttings, splits, and vines that will be accessed from those locations.