The Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service in conjunction with the County Government of Kirinyaga last week conducted a farmers’ field day aimed at promoting the production of clean Hass avocado seedlings and orange fleshed sweet potato seedlings.
According to KEPHIS, more than half of farmers in the country use uncertified seeds.
The county has a program dubbed wezesha that aims at empowering small scale farmers to gain access to new markets that have recently opened up in China and Mauritius by providing them with high quality seedlings. In this, 3,000 avocado seedlings were distributed to farmers during the event.
Sweet potato has high nutritional value such as abundance of rich in beta-carotene while Hass avocado is used in the medicinal, cosmetic and food industries in the country; it also commands a market share of 70 per cent in the international market.
Approximately 300 farmers attended the function graced by Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, Deputy Governor Peter Ndambiri and MCA Karumandi Ward, Hon. Antony Kinyua.
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Governor Waiguru advised the farmers to grow avocados since they are in high demand locally and internationally as she distributed the seedlings.Photo/Kephis
Ephraim Wachira, KEPHIS Officer in Charge at the Embu regional office taught the farmers how to plant avocado seedlings.
“Dig holes with dimensions of 60cm*60cm*60cm with a spacing of 8m by 8m,” he said.
He encouraged them to embrace avocado farming as a long term investment, for when an avocado tree reaches maturity level, five years after planting a farmer is able to harvest an average of 500 to 2,000 fruits per tree.
James Wahome, KEPHIS Chief Liaison Officer later educated the farmers on orange fleshed sweet potato. He showed them two varieties – Vitaa and Kabode – and explained how they are planted.
“Vine cuttings for vine production, should be three to four nodes and for root production, 30cm long. The cuttings for root production are supposed to be planted on mounds, ridges or flat beds. Most part of the cutting is placed in the soil and the tip left exposed; however, 30cm by 75cm is the recommended spacing for root production as it ensures high yields,” he said.