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KALRO selling Mucinya’ sweet potato that creeps 4X faster

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The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization is selling a multi-purpose hybrid sweet potato tuber that creeps four times faster than ordinary tubers, matures a month earlier, and produces leaves that are edible to humans.
Triple health benefits
The new super vine, called Mucinya, was developed by KALRO Embu, as part of KALRO’s mandate to develop more climate and pest resistant crops to improve food security. The vine has higher levels of carbohydrates and of Vitamin A, which has been driving sales of sweet potato, especially in urban areas, in recent years. And for the first time, the leaves of the vines, which are heavily endowed with Vitamin C at the same levels as the highly nutritious indigenous vegetables and spinach, can now be eaten by humans.
This is an interesting departure from traditional vines whose leaves could only be fed to animals. “These dual purpose vines serves the food interest of the people and animals and is an emerging competitive cash crop,” said Mary Mwangi, a crop breeder at KALRO Embu.
High yields, faster maturity
The vine also takes only two-and-a-half months to three months to reach maturity unlike traditional ones that take four months.
To fill up an acre of land, some 1300 pieces of cuttings are required to give yields of over 40 bags as opposed to traditional vines that require 10,000 pieces of cuttings to provide only 20 bags.
Sweet potatoes from these creepers also display various colours like orange, purple, red, and white.
According to the crop breeders, the vines do not require commercial fertilizers, inputs, and intensive labour to produce. They are suitable to small scale farmers doing mixed agriculture on small farm units.
The breeders have appealed to farmers to take up the new varieties which will allow them to earn extra income even as they focus on other crops “because you can plant these vines in between other crops since they don’t compete for nutrients and keep soil aerated for better growth of other crops,” said Mary.
KALRO has recently stepped up its sweet potato breeding programme, delivering the launch of varieties like KSP 004, KSP 20, K- Embu 10, SKP013 and Savayo.
This has seen a 72 per cent increase in production in the country over the last one year.
Together with rigorous farmers training on how to reduce post harvest losses; this has helped reduce household spending on food in areas where the crop is grown and increased income for the predominant subsistence farmers who grow the crop.
Kenya’s 3rd staple food
Sweet potato is considered Kenya’s third most widely used food after maize and potatoes. But it has long been clustered under the orphaned crops, along with cassava, amaranth and millet, attracting relatively little research and promotion compared to crops like maize and rice.
However, such crops are now attracting new attention thanks to their high nutrition, low input requirements, and drought tolerance.

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