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    Certified potato seeds double farmer's yield

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    By George Munene

    “From an acre of farmland applying the right agronomic practices, certified seeds should harvest a minimum of eighty 50kg bags and can yield up to 200 bags,” says Enoch Rugut an extension officer at Egerton University’s potato multiplication center.

    Rugut explains that using seeds disseminated between farmers as planting material you are more likely to harvest 50 bags and will be more than lucky to get 80 bags from your shamba.

    Certified seeds are free of common potato diseases that are soil-borne such as bacterial wilt and those spread by seeds like soft rot.

     

    The country's potato seed pro­duc­tion stands at just 6,700 tonnes against a yearly de­mand of 30,000 tonnes, mak­ing most farm­ers opt to re­cycle the pre­vi­ous year’s har­vest as seed. In an ef­fort to avail more cer­ti­fied potato seeds to farm­ers, the Na­tional Potato Coun­cil of Kenya is in­creas­ing potato mul­ti­plic­a­tion cen­ters across the coun­try.

    These will in­clude cen­ters in Nairobi, Na­k­uru and Meru of­fer­ing pop­u­lar seed vari­et­ies such as Shangi, Unica, Wanjiku, Markies among oth­ers.

    Re­lated News: Kibiri­chia farmer lifts potato earn­ings 50% with stor­age and off-sea­son sales

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    To get peak yields, Enoch ex­plains, a farmer needs to start off by sourcing for the right seeds. The highest classed seeds are re­ferred to as breed­ers or gen­er­a­tion 0; these achieve up to 90 per cent of ideal yields but their cost is ex­or­bit­ant for most farm­ers. “We mostly mul­tiply Cer­ti­fied 1(C1) seeds as they are both high yield­ing (60-50 per cent) and are still af­ford­able for most farm­ers,” he says. Their price ranges from Sh54-80 per kilo­gram of seed.

    Farm­ers also need a timetable start­ing from plant­ing, to earth­ing up—cov­er­ing pota­toes up to a foot high done after three weeks, side-dress­ing with fer­til­izer, and second earth­ing up done three weeks after the first.

    The per-acre cost of pro­duc­tion should av­er­age Sh80,00 for farm­ers and Sh150,000 for seed pro­du­cers.

    Farm­ers wish­ing to be­come seed pro­du­cers need to have their farms and seed source checked and li­censed to be free of pests and dis­eases then pay a Sh100,000 cer­ti­fic­a­tion fee.

    Eger­ton’s Cli­mate and Water Smart Ag­ri­cul­ture Centre is cur­rently selling the Unica potato to farm­ers and is grow­ing Wanjiku and Shangi vari­et­ies. Farm­ers look­ing to get the proper plant­ing and man­age­ment prac­tices to em­ploy to get the most out­put from their farms can also get free train­ing from the Njoro based cen­ter.

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    Seed pro­du­cing com­pan­ies: Eger­ton Uni­versity (Na­k­uru-Njoro)-0742934636

                                                    Ag­rico EA (Na­k­uru-Kabarak)-0742844207

                                                    Kisima farm (Meru Timau)-0716968766

                                                   GTIL (Nairobi-Lower Ka­bete)-0722760373

    Na­tional Potato Coun­cil of Kenya:0799739578

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