Potato Meeting Sees Opportunities for Immense Growth and Expansion despite Disease Challenges.

KEPHIS Headquarters, Nairobi – Potato growers, merchants, stakeholders and farmers in potato production have been urged to exploit the available opportunities in the potato value chain and leverage on the challenges facing maize to increase potato production.

Addressing participants at the 4th Seed Potato Production and Certification Course at headquarters, KEPHIS MD Dr. Esther Kimani said potato has market opportunities in Kenya and also for export. “However, use new technologies and the available knowledge in potato to further expand production,’ she said.

The opportunities are in processing to chips and crisps, multiplication and sale of seed potato and cold storage facilities. She further urged the participants to use certified seed as a first step on potato production.

KEPHIS GM in charge of quality assurance Mr. Simeon Kibet reminded the participants that potato is the 2nd most important food crop in Kenya after maize, hence the importance of the tuber in food security. However, he cautioned them to be aware of potato diseases. 
“We have released (made available for production) 53 potato varieties of which 10 varieties are for processing into chips and crisps,” he added.

MD KEPHIS Dr. Esther Kimani (standing) addressing some participants attending the 4th Seed Potato Production and Certification Course at KEPHIS Headquarters, Nairobi

Dr. Felista Makini from the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Organization (KALRO) also highlighted the importance of potatoes, especially with the current challenges affecting maize, Kenya’s staple crop. Maize has recently faced the challenges of the Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease (MNLD), drought at the beginning of the year and currently, the effects of the Fall Army Worm.

Diversification is important is light of the challenges facing maize and contributing to food security,” she said. “We also have to re-think our systems in light of potato diseases and leverage where there are no diseases,” she added. 
Currently Kenya produces 10 tonnes of potatoes per hectare against a capacity of 60 tonnes per hectare.

MD KEPHIS, Ian Barker of Syngenta Foundation(centre), Dr. Felista Makini of KALRO(3rd right, front)and George Osure of Syngenta Foundation(2nd right, front) after the official opening of the 4th Seed Potato Production and Certification Course at KEPHIS Headquarters, Nairobi

Mr. Wachira Kaguongo of the National Potato Council of Kenya urged the participants to utilize technologies and innovations in the potato value chain.

The weeklong conference has brought together participants from Nandi County, Agricultural Development Corporation, Molo, Taita Taveta County, Marsabit, Turkana County, Tana River County, Nyandarua County, Garissa County, KALRO, Sungus Farm, Molo, Syngenta Foundation and New Holland Chips.

The training has been sponsored by Syngenta Foundation with some students being self-sponsored.   

The training will feature both classroom and practical sessions in the field. The participants will visit


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