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Molo farmer helping colleagues get clean potato seeds amid acute shortage

shangi potato variety

A farmer from Molo, Nakuru County has ventured into potato seed multiplication to help colleagues access clean planting materials at a time the country is facing a cute shortage of the crop due to lack of certified seeds among farmers resulting to low yields.

According to Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri, to date, the total production of seeds in the country is at 6,700 metric tonnes short of the 30,000 metric tonnes required by farmers.

This has further lowered the crop production as the current supply gap is at 1.7m tonnes pushing up the price of the commodity by at least 25 per cent. Hotels and households turn to imports to bridge the gap.

However, Anne Chepng’eno, the Molo farmer, who is growing potatoes and other crops through a rotational model in her 60 acre piece of land since 2005 is now a certified potato seed producer in the region.

She acquired her original seeds from Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and has been involving Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) in her production system to ensure that her seeds are standard free from diseases.

“I engage experts from the service in every stage of production; from where to plant the seeds, the type of seeds, weeding and harvesting among other agronomical practices,” said Chepng’eno.

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In a given season she grows potato in 20 acres of her land while the rest are occupied with other crops such as peas, maize, and some fodder crops.

She has been growing Dutch, Kenya Karibu, Tigoni and Sangi varieties of potato in the recent years but has since singled on Sangi as it has become farmers’ preference due to its desirable qualities.

“Sangi sprouts faster, takes short time to cook and it is also tasty as compared to other potato types raising its market demand making many farmers to grow it,” said Chepng’eno.

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She expects to harvest the next bunch of seeds mid-March to catch up with farmers who target the long rains of March-April-May for planting.

“By next month, the seeds will be ready for farmers who would like tostart planting from March onwards,” she said.

In a season Chepng’eno harvests between 80 and 110 potato sacks of 50kg each. She sells a kilo at Sh100 after approval by KEPHIS earning her approximately Sh500, 000 per season.

“After certification my potato seeds are labeled and can be sold anywhere in Kenya,” she said.

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She is currently a renowned potato seed producer in Molo who has undergone trainings by the Ministry of Agriculture and certification by KEPHIS. In 2017 she registered her company, Singus Company Ltd in a bid to win more seed supply tenders.

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