JM Social Icons


    High Yield

    Tomato farmers in Kenya are set to benefit from the launch of a new tomato variety resistant to bacterial wilt disease thanks to Amiran Kenya, a company that deals with horticultural production.

    The variety which was launched in August 2017 also has intermediate resistance to tomato yellow leaf curl virus, mosaic virus, and fusarium wilt race one and two.

    Related content

    Artificial seed germination keeps off deadly tomato diseases

    Shanty F1 tomato variety earning Laikipia farmer cool cash

    How to control blossom end rot in tomatoes

    Tomato plants affected by bacterial wilt usually wither and die quickly without warning.  The bacteria affect plants that are cut, injured or weakened by poor transplanting, pests and other diseases.

    The Zara F1 tomato variety will be available in agro vets as from March 2018 with five grams retailing at Sh1500, 10 grams at Sh3,000, 25 grams at Sh7,000 and 50 grams at Sh14,000.

    “The optimum Zara F1 tomato variety that farmers’ can plant in an acre should be 7,000 seedlings,” said Hesbon Amukabwa a sales agronomist at Amiran.

    “This variety is a high breed with potential yields of 25 to 30 tonnes per acre with proper management practices; it can do well in Central Kenya in areas such as Mwea and Kirinyaga and in the Western Kenya region,”

    zara f1.jpg 


    Amiran Kenya officials train farmers in Kirinyaga on successful tomato growing. The company has introduced a tomato variety that is resistant to bacterial wilt, known as ZARA F1. PHOTO/AMIRAN

    It is an all-season variety that can be grown in both dry and rainy seasons. Its maturity period is 75-80 days depending on the prevailing weather conditions.

    The seeds are first planted in the nursery where they take a period of 21 to 30 days before transplanting in the open field.  The recommended fertilizer application is 100kg of NPK 17:17:17 fertilizer per acre at planting time with a spacing of 60 by 90cm.

    “After two to three weeks of transplanting, the tomato plants should be top dressed with two fertilizers yara mila winner and nitrabor at the ratio of 2:1 respectively,” said Amukabwa.

    “The variety has a strong, vigorous foliage cover which protects the fruits with concentrated flowering capable of reaching a height of 1.2m; it produces six to seven fruits per cluster,”

    Farmers need to check for flower abortion due attack by insects and pests so as to avoid potential fruit yield loss.

    When the fruit is ripe it attains an oval in shape with non-green shoul­ders and smooth surface with average fruit weight of 110 to 130 grams.

    Zara F1 has a very firm excellent shelf life of up to 14 days meaning farmers and consumers alike can benefit from its two week shelf life after harvesting.




























































































































    Write comment (0 Comments)

    A Ugandan based scientist, Samuel Kamya, has developed a bio fertilizer using a seed bio-coating technology as a solution to combat diseases in crops wilt in tomatoes, pepper, eggplant and plants in the solanaceae family.

    The biological fertilizer is self-regenerating. This means that it's a single application fertilizer whose effects stay within the soil. By interacting with plant roots thanks to a special ingredient, the bio-fertilizer increases crop tolerance to drought. 

    Related content

    Scientist creates app to detect crop diseases

    Scientists develop biopesticide to tame fruit fly

    Scientists pitch for herbal medicine to cure livestock diseases

    “In 2014, I had friends who were engaged in agriculture and were having trouble knowing what to do and what was happening. In some cases losses in their farms were too severe. Whole gardens were lost to wilt for example. With this magnitude of a problem, I and my team set out to develop the needed solutions,” said Kamya.

    “In 2017, this initiative led us to develop an entirely new type of biologically inspired single application fertilizer that resulted in faster crop growth, higher yields, increased tolerance to drought etc. We also developed biological fungicides for spraying. The biological fertilizer is already on market as well as a version of the fungicide,”



    Kamya’s first efforts were to develop a solution that would counter ralstonia, the bacteria responsible for bacterial wilt for crops in the Solanaceae family. He achieved this through a project in which the crops showed greater resistance to soil borne diseases.

    To begin with, some farmers with Samuel’s blessings experimented with bananas to control xanthomonas and fusarium wilt diseases. The results were positive with the bio-fertilizer showing a near 95 per cent ability to protect the bananas against the two diseases. Samuel notes that with proper and thorough application procedures one can obtain 100 per cent protection. 

    He then quickly realized that this technology could also be used to harness through enzymic and organic acid action the conversion of rather unusable phosphorus into a form that a plant can utilize.

    “Remember that with chemical fertilizers; only about 20% is utilized by the plant. The rest is bound in forms that plants can't use, the rest is wasted,” said Kamya.

    The bio-fertilizer k70 was designed to unlock and solubilize any bound phosphorus into a form that any plant can use. This was achieved by tweaking the formulation to allow the plant sequester iron, convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form that's usable by plants.

    By converting atmospheric nitrogen into higher forms of nitrogen such as amino acids and plant growth hormones, the bio-fertilizer increases crop growth. 

     The discovery of this drought tolerance increasing ability allowed Kamya to develop a new technology that he hopes can be used to reclaim desert like lands for agriculture. The Bio-fertilizer is now being processed into an off white powder. This will allow the fertilizer to stay longer. 

    “All that a farmer with planting material needs is open a sachet and add the fertilizer to a little water depending on the volume of seeds or planting material. He then treats the planting material by soaking it in the made bio-fertilizer solution,” said kamya.

    It takes at least 2hrs to fully activate the bio-coating activity of the bio-fertilizer although six hours is better. After this session the seeds can be planted straight away or air dried under shade if the farmer plans to plant later. 

    Direct sunshine exposure should be avoided as sun light is damaging to some of the active components in the fertilizer.



    Write comment (0 Comments)

    Farmers can now detect crop diseases and deficiency of important nutrients such as phosphorus thanks to the launch of a new app called Eska developed by botanist and biochemist, Samuel Kamya.

    The app which was launched in December 2017 is available on android devices. Once installed, the user taps on the icon labeled Eska, it will then access the phone's back camera and when the plant under study is scanned, it displays the results on the screen.


    App alerts buyers of prospected harvest

    Crop app tells contractors expected yields, market size to cut losses

    Technology improves soil fertility through green innovation

    “Given my background as a botanist, I wanted to do something to improve farming. I discovered that for a farmer looking to earn from his harvest, he would have to overcome pest infestation, attack by diseases and nutrient losses so that he sell his produce,” said Kamya.

    “I understood that these problems could be solved using software. So we developed an app that is powered by artificial intelligence to identify diseases, infections or nutrient deficiencies in crops,”


    Traditionally, the farmer would invite a trained agronomist or send samples to either a national or a private lab, wait for a week or a couple of days for the results.

    Thus, farmers can benefit from the app by monitoring their crops for fungal or bacterial infections; this will help them quarantine and deal with the infection decisively. They can choose to destroy infected plants before they spread the infection any further.

    If the plant is not severely affected the farmer can apply fungicides on it without spraying the whole garden. In this, the farmer saves on fungicides and pesticides while practicing a sustainable form of agriculture with the least impact on the environment.

    The application can also spot nutrient deficiencies, which allows the farmer to apply the lacking nutrients in a timely manner without risking mineral toxicity.

    Some nutrient deficiencies are due to either acidic or highly alkaline soils. The soils are acidic when they are below (pH 5.5) and alkaline (above pH 7.8) which in turn affects the uptake of several other mineral nutrients. With the results, farmers can proceed to either add lime to raise the soil pH or sulfur to lower it.

    Also, the farmer can adequately prepare his soil for the next season's crop, by investigating if there are any present weeds and for clues on what nutrients the particular soils are lacking. This way, the farmer gets an opportunity to apply corrective measure before planting.

    The Eska app is therefore the ultimate companion tool for the small holder farmer. It saves one from future and present headaches.

    More information on the app can be found on



    Write comment (0 Comments)

    Editor's Pick

    Weekly weather updates


    Sign Up

    Sign up to receive our newsletter
    FarmBiz Africa © 2018

    Please publish modules in offcanvas position.