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Kirinyaga potato farmer finds success treating potato blight with local herbs

potato farming

One Kir­inyaga County farmer is turn­ing local herbs into rem­edy against potato blight dis­ease, which has proven hard to con­trol with com­mer­cial chem­ic­als which are also ex­pens­ive hence in­creas­ing the cost of pro­duc­tion.

Ern­est Maina mixes 10 herbs, which he pounds to­gether be­fore dust­ing the seeds or other grow­ing ma­ter­i­als with the powder be­fore plant­ing.

He calls the powder the ‘Golden seed wood’. He, however, did not re­veal the names of the herbs as he has star­ted com­mer­cial­ising con­coc­tion.

Blight is a symp­tom of a fungal dis­ease that at­tacks crops in the So­lanaceae fam­ily in­clud­ing pep­per, cap­sicum, Irish and sweet pota­toes, night­shade, among oth­ers.

The fungus is called Al­tern­aria so­lani.

Blight causes leaf chlorosis, brown­ing of crop parts such as twigs and flowers be­fore death. It spreads rap­idly and it is not eas­ily con­trolled by chem­ic­als; it is only man­aged.

“I have re­peatedly tried the con­coc­tion and found it work­ing.  I am cur­rently grow­ing about 50 Irish potato stems at my orch­ard and they are dis­eases free. It is the same place where they used to die be­fore flower­ing every time,” he said.

Maina said a few farm­ers from his Ker­ugoya home have tested the powder and found it ef­fect­ive against the Irish potato blight.

In ap­plic­a­tion, Maina said seeds or tubers for propaga­tion are dus­ted with the power be­fore plant­ing in the nurs­ery or seed bed.

“Herb gives a hol­istic pro­tec­tion to the crops. One can­not isol­ate the act­ive in­gredi­ents that pro­tect the crop from the blight. I was just try­ing to solve the prob­lem,” he said.

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Maina said har­vests are high since the crops will not be strug­gling to sur­vive the at­tack.

However, there has not been any sci­entific proof that in­deed the patho­gens be­hind the blight can be sup­pressed by the golden seed wood con­coc­tion of Maina.

Maina can be reached on +254722752562

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