National Youth Service (NYS) at its offices in Tumaini, Nyandarua County is employing new technology in producing clean potato seeds for farmers in a bid to curb the rising shortage of the planting materials.
According to National Potato Council of Kenya’s (NPCK) Research and Development Officer, Henry Kemjo, there is a potato seed demand of 100,000 tonnes in the country only 5000 tonnes is produced and supplied annually. In this, Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) produces 300 tonnes of potato seeds every year.
And now NYS though aeroponics technology, the process of growing plants in an air or mist environment without the use of soil or an aggregate medium is producing more potato tubers for merchants and eventually farmers.
Given the new technology employs the use of a soilless medium, it means therefore that pests and diseases that occur in the soil are minimized thus a higher chance of getting clean planting materials.
The facility which has been operational since its launch last year has three greenhouses under production which KEPHIS has been assisting by providing diagnostic services and guiding the NYS on seed potato certification procedures ensuring the transition of the produced seed potato towards field bulking.
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Currently, the facility produces locally preferred varieties of Shangi and Dutch Robjin and about 200,000 mini tubers have been produced.
For sustainability, it is envisaged that KEPHIS, KALRO, CIP and private companies through their laboratories will provide the virus indexed starter seedlings thus ensuring the facility has access to clean material.
The NYS Tumaini farm has already been registered as a seed merchant hence can market the certified seed potato to farmers. It is also the 2nd largest seed potato production unit in Africa.
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Photo1 caption: Mini potato tubers ready for harvesting at the NYS Tumaini facility in Nyandarua. KEPHIS provides technical and diagnostic services as well as guiding on seed certification procedures which has ensured the transition of the produced seed towards field bulking.
Photo2 caption: Harvested mini tubers grown using the aeroponics technology. KEPHIS provides technical and diagnostic services as well as guiding on seed certification procedures which has ensured the transition of the produced seed towards field bulking.
You can reach the National Youth Service on Tel: +254-208563521 | Fax: +254-208561489 | email@example.com