Meru Urged to Diversity to Seed Potato Production for Food Security and Economic Development

Marimba, North Imenti - The potato story continues and this time it was in Marimba, a cold region at the foothills of Mount Kenya in North Imenti, Meru County where about 350 farmers saw firsthand, and were strongly advised how potato has the ability to upscale their standards of living. Indeed, Meru county is known - for the longest time - for the production of miraa(khat).

They also grow bananas among other crops. But in the continued spirit of diversification and because they have been blessed with abundant rainfall and fertile soils, they were urged to grow potatoes, particularly seed potato, which can earn them good incomes.
The field day was graced by the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture and Irrigation Hon. Mwangi Kiunjuri and his host, Meru Governor H.E. Kiraitu Murungi. "Only 18 percent of farmers use certified seed when planting, but if we upscale this to 30% we can even have potatoes to export," the CS stated. "I therefore urge farmers in Meru not to recycle their seeds but to use certified seed all the time when planting; do not use seed a second time or a third time which you have in your stores, but always use certified seed," he reiterated.
Certified seed is that which has gone through processing, laboratory tests, marketing, post control and post certification in the field to ascertain that it will grow and germinate; certified seed has also been tested and found to grow well in different agro-ecological conditions.
"As government we will invest money in the production of certified seed which has the potential to earn a good income for any farmer who delves into it," he added. He noted that seed potato production can be increased from the current 6,000 metric tonnes to 30,000 metric tonnes.
"We will also put technical officers from KEPHIS and others who will assist our farmers to get it right in the production of seed potato," he emphasized.
He noted that there are potatoes for chips, crisps and for ware that have been released to the business and the farming community for multiplication.
Governor Kiraitu said that the country would put land aside for the production of seed potato. "We will put aside 100 acres of land for the production of the tuber," he said.
KEPHIS MD Dr Esther Kimani urged farmers to declare any plant or plant materials to KEPHIS inspectors at the border points so that harmful pests and diseases do not come into the country.

CS Mwangi Kiunjuri and Governor Kiraitu Murungi holding potatoes specifically developed for chips during the Marimba, Meru field day. Tubers for chips, crisps and for ware were demonstrated during the event. KEPHIS MD Dr. Esther Kimani (right) explains how KEPHIS in collaboration with potato seed companies have released 53 potato varieties for multiplication for food security and nutrition.

An exhibitor (right) demonstrates growing potatoes from small seedlings before being transplanted onto a nursery during the Marimba, Meru Field Day.

A representative from AgriSeedCo showing their varieties of potato during the Marimba, Meru field day.

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