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Pioneering green technology could tackle Kenya pests and pathogens

flower in kenya

A new green technological initiative is being introduced in Kenya with a view to tackling pestilence and shore up horticultural productivity in the East African nation. The UK-based ADAS Horticulture recently announced what it called a pioneering technology to minimize the impact of attacks by pests and pathogens which significantly undermine Kenya’s horticultural yields and cause supply chain losses.

The innovation which ADAS said will help catapult Kenya into a leading exporter of fresh produce including flowers and vegetable heralds the first time ever UV technology is being applied on crops that were still undergoing growth.

“We worked with a Kenyan business, which grows and exports roses back to the UK. The technology comprises two strands: firstly, UV light to make crops more resistant to pest and pathogen attack and also improve product marketable quality; and secondly, UV light in post-harvest environments to remove ethylene, which is known as the silent killer and is responsible for the accelerated ageing of fresh produce” Dr Barry Mulholland, Director, ADAS Horticulture, said while explaining the technology.

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According to him, removing ethylene suspends the ageing process and effectively extends to two days the shelf life of cut roses which are under constant threat of damage by pest and disease despite their durability.

Dr Mulholland said aside from incidentally removing and destroying micro-organisms present in the air it will significantly cut scheduling losses in the supply chain by 60 percent.

ADAS believes that with the proper application of this technology, perishable floral cargoes of roses, carnations and summer flowers can be saved and boost the country’s export of them.

Kenya is a net exporter of flowers and vegetables but has been undermined by the sporadic outbreak of Botrytis or grey mould, which decimates crops and adversely affects the supply chain.

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Other challenges are posed by pests and pathogens, estimated to be responsible for 40 percent of cut rose yield losses worldwide.

ADAS said direct spraying of pesticides has not always proved effective with their application in fields causing increasing concerns for the environment and misgivings over the health of consumers.

Since 2015 with funding from Innovate UK, ADAS has been working with industry and collaborators in the academic world to develop new sustainable, non-contact, non-chemical technologies.

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