Potato seed multiplication earns farmer good cash

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Elisha Lang’at, a Bomet County farmer is earning Sh67, 500 every season from selling harvested potatoes as seeds to his counterparts at a time when the area is experiencing a shortage of potato seeds.

Bomet is a key potato growing county, the preferred source by processors however production is hampered by shortage of good quality seed potato. In 2015, USAID funded Kenya Agricultural Value.

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Chains Enterprises Project working with Deepa Industries and approached Midlands Sacco in the county to interest its members to venture into seed multiplication in a bid to quench the thirst of shortage of quality potato seed.

Lang’at developed interest in multiplying potato seeds after attending the Midlands Sacco potato farming training. “We were taken through potato farming requirements and basic potato agronomical practices. This is why before farming potatoes for seeds I had to do soil testing as soil is the key requirement in raising potatoes,” said Lang’at.

From this training, he then took samples of soil from his one acre piece of land for a test and the results were positive, allowing him to grow potatoes.

“I bought three 50kg bags of starter seed at Sh3, 750 from the Agricultural Development Corporation in Bomet Town and planted. I harvested 10 bags from each seed bag, getting 30 bags of seed each 90kg and sold them earning about Sh25, 000 in total,” said Lang’at.

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This encouraged him and decided to expand his farm to two acres so as to meet the growing demand. He has since decided to grow the potatoes for seed multiplication only. “I have no intention of growing potatoes for any other purposes but for seeds multiplication for the many farmers. I have increased my input in the two acres and I am currently harvesting 40 to 50 bags of 90kg each.”

A kilo of the seed variety sales at Sh25, this earns him an average of Sh90, 000 or more depending on the efforts he applies to grow and harvest more in a season.

Lang’at grows Asante and Challenger varieties of potatoes which do well in areas such as Timau, Tigoni,Molo, Narok, Bomet, Timboroa, and all other regions suitable for potato production which has an altitude of 2300m above the sea level, a condition good for the potatoes.

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The two varieties take about 3-4 months to mature and can yield up to 40 tonnes per hectare. This makes his seeds more marketable.

Currently he is just waiting for the heavy rains in the region to reduce so that he can start harvesting. “This time round I am expecting over 80 bags from my small piece of land which I hope will increase my income,” said the 35 years old farmer.