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Potato farmers to double yield with new imported short-season varieties

cropped African potato farmers

By George Munene

Farmers in the county are set to receive three new high-yielding and early bulking potato varieties that are expected to double their harvest. The varieties imported from Ireland have a shorter dormancy period and are meant to be grown for the short season offering farmers an opportunity to earn more with three planting seasons annually rather than the usual two.

Patrick Boro, project director at International Fertiliser Development Centre explains that the average production per hectare will vary with seasons but the new varieties will have a capacity of producing 120 tonnes per hectare.

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The three new variants are Fandango, Tornado, and Imagine and are expected to be in the market within 90 days. The seeds will first be introduced to 3,000 small-scale farmers for multiplication, under Kephis restricted trials before being extended to other potato growing counties.

“The imported Irish varieties are high-yielding varieties. They will perform better than the local varieties we have; first of all, because the research that has been done over many years shows that those varieties have been able to do very well in climatic regions in Ireland that is similar to conditions in Kenya,” said Nyandarua County agriculture executive Dr. James Karitu.

The planting materials for these high-yielding potatoes are already under propagation in Timau, under the supervision of the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) and other players within the potato industry. They have been shipped into the country through the Potato Sector Capacity Building Project spearheaded by the Embassy of Ireland and Nyandarua County Government.

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Dr. Karitu said that the seed importation program is aimed at increasing farmer’s access to the best quality seed and certified planting materials.

“Some of the local varieties we have in Kenya have been grown over a very long period of time and have degenerated to a big extent because of cross-breeding or other factors caused by farming systems,” explains Patrick Boro.

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