News and knowhow for farmers

New disease resistant cassava varieties for Coastal Kenya can yield 20 to 28 tons per acre

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The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) has released two new cassava varieties with potential yields of 21 tonnes per acre, double the current varieties that produce 7.5 to 10 tons per acre.

The six varieties mature within six to eight months and are resistant to cassava brown streak virus and cassava mosaic virus, two diseases which have been threatening farmers’ produce within the Coastal region of Mtwapa, Msabaha and Mpeketoni.

These varieties are nzalauka, karibuni, shibe, karembo, tajirika and siri.

Nzalauka has rough roots with straight stems and is suitable for intercropping and can yield 21 tons per acre. Karibuni has cylindrical roots and a rough skin; it can yield up to 21 tons per acre.

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Zipporak Kamwathi holding a 25kg cassava harvested from her farm in Kitui/courtesy

Shibe on the other hand has straight stems with no branches and smooth roots with yellow outer surface. It is the highest yielding variety at 28 tons per acre in a season.

Tajirika has smooth and long white roots and straight stems while karembo is the second highest yielding at 27 tons per acre with cylindrical roots and open structure. This variety is suitable for mono cropping.

Siri has smooth roots with many constrictions but no branches and can yield 23 tons per acre.

Cassava has been identified as an important source of food for a fifth of the population in Africa, Asia and South America and as a perennial crop; it does well on poor soils with little rainfall.

In Kenya, the crop’s roots are boiled or roasted and consumed locally under subsistence farming with excess being utilized as animal feed.

With the effects of global warming and pest infestation affecting Kenya’s main food crop maize leading to a drop in production by 4.2m bags in 2017, farmers can now grow these drought tolerant and disease resistant cassava varieties in a bid to boost food production and improve food security in the county.

According to the Economic Survey 2018 report by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, Kenya produced 1.112m metric tonnes of cassava in 2017.

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